Trowbridge Song Project – Part 1: Building Bridges

Building Bridges was a 2 year Arts Council funded project based in Trowbridge Wiltshire. The project aimed to increase intercultural understanding and strengthen ties between different ethnic communities in Trowbridge, including the white British, through collecting, sharing and celebrating traditional songs and stories. In a series of events, the project shared the collected songs and stories of how and why people came to Trowbridge, culminating in a high profile concert and exhibition at the Wiltshire Music Centre in November 2015.

Between 2014 and November 2015 there were 3 major concerts, the formation of several ‘Scratch Choirs’ (people who came together to sing for a number of weeks and to perform in a one off concert) and over 40 recordings were made documenting people’s journey to Trowbridge from all over the World.

There are many intriguing and wonderful migrational stories, videos of our activities and recordings of new arrangements of songs which have been shared by people who have participated in the project. These resources are available online, to anyone who would like to use them. They are also at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre archives.

There were 4 stages to Building Bridges:

1. Building relationships, researching and collecting songs and stories

From key ethnic groups and cultures in Trowbridge, including white British communities.

2. A series of Events – large and small, informal and formal – over 2 years

Where participating groups and individuals came together to share their songs and stories. At the larger events, participants were joined by the Sounding It Out choir

3. Finale Concert and Town Centre Exhibition

The project culminated with an finale concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre featuring over 100 singers on stage, as well as dancers, musicians and story tellers. There was an international food cafe run by the West Wiltshire Multi Faith Forum and a photographic exhibition of the portraits taken by local photographer Penney Ellis.

4. Community Choir Leadership Training

A group of eight people were trained as community choir leaders with the aim of bringing singing to a range of organisations as well as work places, schools, nursing homes and clubs in and around Trowbridge, taking with them the core repertoire of songs collected through this project.

Trowbridge Song Project – Part 2: Singing In The Community

Singing in the Community was to help continue the positive work of Building Bridges, by encouraging singing activities in Trowbridge and the surrounding areas. It was also intended to create a legacy of the whole Trowbridge Song Project so that singing and community building could continue into the future.

Between 2015 and 2018 Singing in the Community ran 5 singing workshops, ran 2 film screenings and facilitated the setting up of 4 community choirs. In 2016 the project launched the Mill Race Singers at the Mill Race Activity Club in Calne; a day centre for adults with learning disabilities. The group meet once a month to sing and explore music.

In January 2018 the TSP committee announced that the project would come to an end. The committee along with founder Candy Verney were unianimous in their views that the project had secured a long-term legacy for the project. Highlights of the legacy are:

  • A successful community choir in Trowbridge (Clarity Choir, run by Clara Atkins)
  • Mill Race Singers have secured funding from Wiltshire Rural Music to run for a further 12 months
  • Many 100s of people in Trowbridge and the surrounding areas have had a go at singing (and loved it!)

Funders and Partners

Building Bridges was funded by:

Arts Council England (Grants for the Arts)

Wiltshire Council

Bridge House Community Trust

Trowbridge Town Trust

 

The project also received support from:

Wiltshire Music Centre 

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre 

BA14 Culture

Asda Trowbridge

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