Tag Archives: I Speak Music

Celebrate the talents and contributions of displaced and diverse communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped everyone in their tracks. As a society, we have been learning to reassess how we connect with one another and the things that are important to us, as well as exploring new ways to be creative at home. Surrey based Community Orchestra, I Speak Music (ISM), normally meet regularly to provide a musical platform for people from diverse backgrounds to come together to make music. During the last few months, they have been unable to rehearse and, like countless arts organisations, have had to cancel events, including their concert as part of World Refugee Week. Thankfully, the ISM team have developed and implemented a digital music project to ensure their members are still able to connect and create music together.

Jim Pinchen, ISM Project Manager said “We met the ISM members online and who told us that they wanted to do something to say thank you and to recognize the hard work and sacrifice to those on the frontline for keeping things running and keeping us safe during the crisis.” 

Over a series of online workshops ISM were supported to contribute musical ideas and lyrics, which Jim, together with ISM music leaders Raghad Haddad and songwriter Liz Ikamba, developed into a new song.  The song places special attention on the dedication and sacrifice of BAME and migrant workers and was also inspired by the theme of this year’s World Refugee Week, IMAGINE.

 “The main thing we wanted to reflect in the music was the diversity of those involved” said Raghad, “it was important that the music showcased many styles, representing many areas and countries and included the different languages of the people performing it and who they were saying thank you to.” Raghad’s brother, who leads a children’s choir in Syria, was keen for their voices to join with his sister’s and the rest of ISM; giving them an opportunity to sing in Arabic alongside friends and family who are living in the UK and other parts of the world.

Participants were invited to join online rehearsals via Zoom where they discussed what they imagined our world would look like in the future and where they could offer lyrical ideas for the song. “We sent out links to the music, some technical parts for the more experienced musicians as well as simpler elements to ensure it was as accessible as possible” says Jim and adds “there was a lot of support given where needed from the ISM team to help guide participants on how to film themselves and upload their footage. We are thrilled that so many people took part; we have 36 clips from Syria alone that I’ve edited into a four-minute video.”


Feedback from ISM members has been incredibly positive, one member when asked what they liked most about being involved  said “Being creative and collaborative. It’s always a great experience working with ISM. There is such a variety of musical influences and camaraderie.”

So, what is next for the song Imagine, Imagine? I Speak Music Orchestra have joined forces with London based company Together Productions to deliver phase two of the project. Creative Producer, Holly Jones said “We’re a community interest company who produce arts projects with a positive social impact  so when Jim mentioned that ISM were doing this project we were keen to help take it to the next level. Working with our international partners, such as Musicians Without Borders and the International Organization for Migration, will help  people access the technology that they need.”


This ambitious next phase for the project has already attracted much interest and award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Leslie Knott, has joined the team along with Ben Gregor, acclaimed TV, Film and Music Video Director. The experienced team aim to create a powerful and engaging music video, unlike any seen during the lockdown, to be released later in the year.

Holly says “We’ve got this brilliant song that’s been composed and the idea is that on World Refugee Day we will send it out into the world and invite people, wherever they are, to film themselves joining in with the song, either singing the chorus or playing some of the percussion parts or dancing. Imagine: Imagine  will encourage audiences to look beyond their neighbourhoods to the global community, to collaborate creatively together and to consider the voices and lives of those forcibly displaced and seeking a home.”

The IMAGINE: IMAGINE project is going live on Saturday 20 June 2020, to get involved visit http://www.imagineimagine.org

I Speak Music Community Orchestra is supported by Surrey Arts and Surrey Music Hub and is funded by Arts Council England.

If you are interested in finding out more about the I Speak Music and related activities email mona4youthmusic@gmail.com

The I Speak Music Community Orchestra

The I Speak Music Community Orchestra is designed to celebrate the diversity of Surrey’s communities and is led by some of the UKs most experienced music facilitators. Through a series of fun and creative music workshops participants will be able to make new music, try instruments from around the world, perform and make new friendships.

The project welcomes people of any age (over 12years) and background, but is particularly interested in hearing from refugees, unaccompanied minors, BAME communities and those who sing or play non-western musical instruments. Professional musicians are welcome to join the group as are those with no previous musical experience. To book your place please email mona4youthmusic@gmail.com 

We are delighted to announce that we now have funding from Arts Council England to continue and develop the Orchestra. We will be re-launching in April 2019 with already some planned performances at various events in 2019.

Here’s what we have planned!

LAUNCH EVENT:

As part of part of the I Speak Music Community Orchestra relaunch, we warmly invite musicians, local organisations and front-line support agencies to join us for tea, coffee and falafels and to find out more about the programme and how to get involved!

Live music, guest speakers and updates on local opportunities.

Admission and falafels are free but places will be limited!

12.30pm – 2.30pm on 24th April, The Electric Theatre, Guildford.

To book your place please register via Eventbrite here

ORCHESTRA REHEARSALS:

6pm – 8pm on April 25, May 9, 23, June 13, 27, July 11

Guildford County School, Farnham Road, Guildford

ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCES:

REFUGEE WEEK CONCERT:

18th June, HG Wells, Woking

Meet the Orchestra music leaders

Raghad Haddad, Co-Musical Director

Raghad is a viola player from Yabroud, a small town in the mountains north of Damascus. After graduating from the conservatoire in Damascus, she began teaching, performing with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music. Since being granted asylum in the UK in 2017 she has performed at numerous charity events in London and Brighton and recently performed with Damon Albarn, The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. She also joined a group of Syrian professional musicians called The London Syrian Ensemble and they perform traditional and classical oriental music around the UK connects her to her homeland. Raghad now working hard to secure a living performing, teaching whenever opportunities arise.

James Redwood, Co-Musical Director

James is a composer and music leader with 20 years’ experience of making music with groups of non-professional and professional musicians.  The wider the range of musical personalities in the room, the happier he is.

Sara Khoroosi, Music Facilitator

Sara is a Violinist Dancer and Alexander Technique Teacher specialising in working with Performers of any ability, facilitating the ease freedom and joy that can be experienced through the Performing Arts at any level. She  has experience of working with unaccompanied asylum seekers and playing & touring with Manouchska & Dunia Flamenco; Danced/Choreographed with Mambo Central; and taught Alexander Technique at the Actors Centre and London Music & Dance Conservatoires.
Instruments: Violin, vocals, keys, percussion
Additional skills: Farsi and Spanish speaker

KMT Freedom Teacher, Music Facilitator

KMT is an exemplar for social change. DJ/M.C and Trainer (Workshops, Project Manager and Lecturer), since 1999 he has used the arts, in particular Hip-Hop, for social awareness and cohesion http://www.3kmt.co.uk.

KMT entertains and educates, guides people with infectious energy, knowledge and skills to change and empower their lives. He is also the co-founder of May Project Gardens; a community based food-growing project set within the grounds of his home. The grassroots project illustrates his passion for pro-active social change and love for the environment http://www.mayproject.org
Instruments: Voice, DJ, Body, Mind
Additional skills: I pride myself on being to identify people’s skills and talents and developing to their full potential.

Craig Warnock, Music Facilitator

Craig has been leading group workshops and individual sessions with a variety of young people for several years, teaching multi-instrumental skills, composition and songwriting, recording and production techniques.

He has worked extensively with young people who are living in challenging circumstances and with a range of learning and physical disabilities needs. Craig has been a professional multi-instrumental musician for twenty years involved in recording /touring with many great acts.
Instruments: Keys, Bass, Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Flute, Inclusive Music Tech esp iPad music apps.

Jim Pinchen, Project Manager/ Music Facilitator

Jim is a composer, facilitator, speaker and project manager with a proven track record of delivering local, national and international programmes for children and young people. He is the Inclusion Manager at Surrey Arts/Surrey Music Education Hub and a trainer for Musicians Without Borders
Instruments: Guitar, bass, piano, music production and inclusive music technologies (also very basic cello and trumpet!)

The Orchestra’s history

This Orchestra performed for the first time in June at the Refugee Week event in Woking, was then invited to perform at a Police organised memorial event and most recently in September 2019, invited to take part in a TEDx Conference in Farnham on the themes of building empathy and resilience. Surrey Music Hub’s vision is for this model to grow and be replicated up and down the country.

Get involved

To find out more about the project and how to get involved email Project outreach officer, Mona Saad at mona4youthmusic@gmail.com