Heather the archivist in R.N.C.M. and the woman responsible for creating and bringing the ‘Making Music in Manchester in WW1’ to life, teamed up with Instigate Arts to deliver creative workshops on the project. Together they have picked out a narrative from some of the material I have helped to digitise, and will be working with it in a variety of creative ways to help bring the past to life. My workshop was a creative writing workshop, something I have not had a lot of time for since finishing college, so it was nice to get writing again.
Two images had been chosen from the archive, the aim was to create a piece of flash fiction. Flash fiction is a cross between an extended poem and a very short story, which was a nice challenge as I had not encountered or worked with this genre formally before.
Myself and some of the other volunteers have been helping to digitise some of the R.N.C.M.’s records, which in part include notebooks and concert posters from the Hallé librarians. We went to the very new and modern Hallé building at The Bridgewater Hall to meet the archivist and to learn more about their history, their archives and how the R.N.C.M. and The Hallé have worked together since The Hallé’s creation. Whilst I know of the Hallé I did not know a lot about how it all started, so I learned a lot from both the R.N.C.M. archivist Heather and The Hallé archivist Eleanor.
I went to visit the Henry Watson Music Library in The Central Library with Heather and the rest of the team from the R.N.C.M. who have been working on the project, ‘Making Music in Manchester During WW1’. When we had all arrived we met Ros, the librarian who is in charge of the Henry Watson Music library, who also has musical training and is a cellist. Ros says that having some musical experience was an advantage when undertaking the music library due to the associated terminology and jargon that comes with a specialist subject area. She does say that even without any prior musical knowledge it is easy to pick up the essentials quickly and easily.
The workshops are starting, the content is nearly all online and our exhibitions are being created! It’s full steam ahead at project HQ (my desk).
We are working with Instigate Arts to design and deliver workshops which encourage creative responses to the stories we have uncovered and the material we have digitised. Inspire Centre, Levenshulme, had a jolly time of it working on a song arrangement performed at the college from just before the war.
The material we have chosen to digitise is so rich in information. We have programmes and registers from the Royal Manchester College of Music. We have a play and wartime childhood magazine written by composer Alan Rawsthorne when he was just a lad! Letters between musicians talking about how the war is affecting them and their families. Papers re internment of musicians overseas.
We have, from the Hallé Concerts Society archives, programmes from the war arranged into gorgeous little annotated notebooks from the then librarian. These show all kinds of nuances and tricky programming problems to do with the war.
From the Henry Watson Music Library, we have the notebooks of Gustav Behrens, parton to much of Manchester’s music organisations. In these he collected notices, programmes and most interestingly newspaper clippings about music making in Manchester during WW1. Full of pure gossip!
Our portable pop-up banners showing some of the most interesting stories through each collection are being designed as I type and we’re ready to put the content of those onto the wonderful digital displays at Archives+.
We’ll let you know when they’re up and about so you can nip in and see for yourself.
Still to come!
We have yet to get all the images online and will be sharing them on History Pin, too.
We have workshops that are yet to take place and we’re so excited about them.
We have yet to figure out what to do after this project ends in terms of what we want to develop. So! If you have any ideas, do get in touch!
That’s right! We’re back, this time with a fabulous pot of funds from the generous Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ve a new agenda and new horizons to catch. Let’s see what we’ve got planned.
Our new project developed from the evaluation of the previous one. Whilst of AHRC-funded project, “Making Music in Manchester during WWI” did what the project said it would do, there was definitely more that we could do with it.
Check it out! We’ve been published in the Manchester Region History Review. Inside is a summary article about some themes on the project written by RNCM Archivist, Heather Roberts. Browse the fabulous magazine or skip straight to the middle for our article summarising the mysteries and nuances we have been exploring.
If you haven’t been to the Manchester District Music Archive website, then you must absolutely nip over. Share some of your Manchester music history whilst you’re there and you should definitely have a look at the RNCM Archive’s account. In fact, there’s one particular online exhibition that may interest you…
We have our project exhibition up and running in the beautiful Wolfson Reading Room at Central Library. Do nip in and see what we’ve been working with. We have items from the RNCM, the Hallé and the Henry Watson Music Library on display. If you see something that interests you and would like to know more, just get in touch with us! We’d be more than happy to have a chat.
After the First World War the government gave grants out to returning soldiers to go back into education, including music.
It’s 1919, right? You’ve just finished a war that took four years to end when you thought it was going to take four months. The country is shaken and an incredible number of people, families and livelihoods are destroyed.