Classical meets urban at Norwich Future project

Young Norwich urban musician were in an unlikely partnership as they 'spat' some beats in perfect harmony with a professional string quartet yesterday.

Members of the Future Project, some of who have never been exposed to classical music before, worked with professional and classically trained musicians from the Britten Sinfonia and the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra in a first day of workshops yesterday before they perform to a Theatre Royal audience in April.

At the Future Project headquarters on Motum Road the musicians improvised and performed together in preparation for the concert.

The project has been funded by the Future Be project and Orchestras Live, which is partly funded by Norwich City Council.

The piece will be roughly ten minutes long and based around three Shakespearean texts. Yesterday the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company worked with the musicians.

Kasey McKenzie, 14, from Old Catton in Norwich said: 'We've been spitting over the violin and the cello today. We've been rapping. We've just been practising over different beats.

'It was wicked. It is just really varied. There are all sort of different things. You realise that you can't always focus on one type of music.'

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Derik Bulwadda, 22, of Whitehall Road, was in prison for a few months last year, but since he was released he has been working hard on his music.

He has been involved in the Future Project for around two years and will be producing the piece.

'As soon as Will came up and asked if I wanted to be involved I said 'yes'. I wanted to learn how the instruments work', he said.

'I has been a new thing for me, working with more than two or three people. This morning I woke up and knew this was going to happen. I knew I was going to have to put my heart and soul into this.

'I've never heard of these different types of music mix. We've not just got hip hop and classical. We've got dubstep. We are all going to have to come together and make one thing.

'Being exposed to something like this is definitely positive. The stuff we can do from this is unlimited. I've been here two hours and I've already learnt stuff about violn, where to put the microphones.

'Everybody has to work together for this to work.'

Britten Sinfonia violist Lizze Ball said: 'It is wicked for us as well. We are all very diverse and we all come from some very different back grounds. This is great for us. It adapts our work.

'We have been getting together with the kids and they have been freestyling. It just trying to get everybody together.

'This is very unusual. It is pioneering. It is radical.

'They clearly know their music. We are showing them what we can do.'

She said that some of the young people involved in the project were bringing a level of technical skills the classical professionals did not have.

Will Wilson, who is co-ordinating the Be Project said: 'We were trying to mix the musicians who come through here who are working in urban and hip hop music and broaden their horizons with both the professional and youth orchestra. We want them to make some connections with some other instruments.

'I was running around doing admin. It was quite moving when I went back through there was a bunch of guys rapping with this quartet.'

He said he had been amazed by the response of the young people. He said that usually if he asked 20 or 30 people along, only eight or nine would turn up. 'Everyone turned up for this', he said.

Tess Lewis-Willams, 16, who plays the cello in the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra, said: 'I really didn't know what it was going to be like. 'We were told it was going to be voices and people were going to talk over the music. I was really really impressed. When they improvise, it is just so impressive. It was really good. The beats were really tough, they can do it over anything. I am really looking forward to it.'