Re:Discover Festival at The Bridgewater Hall

Johnny James, Managing Editor
'Sancho & Me' with Paterson Joseph
Image supplied by The Bridgewater Hall.

Re:Discover Festival at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre 7 — 8 June 2024 Tickets from £0.00 — Book now

This June, join The Bridgewater Hall and Streetwise Opera for a two-day festival celebrating African and Caribbean heritage in Britain, featuring music and theatre performances, storytelling, workshops and family fun.

First up on Friday 7 June, the award-winning Streetwise Opera present an evening of performances inspired by the artistry and spirit of Black classical composers including Ignatius Sancho – an extraordinary figure who, born on a slave ship on the Atlantic in 1729, overcame his difficult beginnings to become a writer, composer and storied ‘man of letters’ in 18th Century London, as well as the first Black person to vote within the UK.

Paterson Joseph. Image supplied by The Bridgewater Hall.

The programme includes a 6pm performance of Sancho & Me – For One Night Only, a music-accompanied monologue delivered by actor, author and librettist Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, Timeless, Wonka). Part biography, part-dramatised readings from Paterson’s acclaimed novel The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, the performance connects a Black Life in the transatlantic world from nearly 300 years ago with a Black Life in today’s UK.

The performance will open with a new short opera co-created by local people with lived experience of homelessness, following participation in Streetwise Opera workshops. The Rescue: Escape The Dream explores modern themes, whilst taking inspiration from the music, courage and resilience of Black classical composers like Ignatius Sancho, George Bridgetower, Joseph Bologne, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and Shirley J. Thompson. The excavation of identity continues with an after-show (included in the £10 ticket price) featuring Afro-futuristic artist Lavender Rodriguez, bringing day one to a captivating close.

Streetwise Opera
Streetwise Opera. Image supplied by The Bridgewater Hall.

A Family Adventure in Opera is next on Saturday 8 June. Entirely free, this daytime event blends music, storytelling and fun for the whole family. From 11am in the Stalls Foyer, there’ll be a series of workshops led by Manchester charity AfroCats, with whom you can explore the magic of song, storytelling and dance, while live music takes place across the foyer spaces including steel pan band, Jamsalana.

AfroCats
AfroCats. Image supplied by The Bridgewater Hall.

Over in the Auditorium from 12.15pm, you’ll find interactive performances from Streetwise Opera, designed to ignite the imaginations of children aged seven and over, while festival director and soprano Abigail Kelly will perform Shirley J. Thompson’s Women of the Windrush. This inspiring one-act opera, which Opera Magazine called “a gripping work…celebrating human community and resilience”, portrays inspirational narratives from the lives of women who travelled to the UK from the West Indies between the 1940s and the 1960s.

Finally, on Saturday evening, Jazz Jamaica All Stars will dig into the vaults of the iconic Trojan Records label, with its message that ‘there is more that unites us than divides us.’ Formed in 1991 by Gary Crosby OBE – bassist, band leader and nephew of Jamaica’s legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin – the mighty Jazz Jamaica have carved out a reputation as “one of the UK’s leading good-time bands” (The Independent), following exuberant live performances and dynamic album releases over three decades.

Jazz Jamaica Allstars. Image supplied by The Bridgewater Hall.

Crosby’s concept was to create a quintessential fusion of mento, ska, reggae and jazz, playing classic and modern jazz standards alongside Jamaican folksongs, and it is his leadership and drive that continues the evolution of Jazz Jamaica today. At The Bridgewater Hall, they’ll be joined by reggae star Brinsley Forde and ‘Queen of Lovers Rock’, Carroll Thompson, as well as a community choir drawn from the local area. Tickets for this evening event are priced from £24, with concessions available.

Speaking about the festival as a whole, Martin Constantine, Artistic Director of Streetwise Opera, said:

“Re:Discover recognises the extraordinary impact that artists of African and Caribbean heritage have had on the culture of Britain and Europe. These remarkable composers endured and triumphed over profound adversities to build a fairer and more beautiful world through their music. Their resilience and courage have been a source of inspiration to all of us at Streetwise Opera.”

Re:Discover Festival at The Bridgewater Hall, City Centre 7 — 8 June 2024 Tickets from £0.00 Book now

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