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10th Birthday Celebrations!

See all the comments on the 10th Birthday blog here

Music4U - the Humber Region Youth Music Action Zone - celebrated its 10th birthday in style at the Albemarle Music Centre in Hull on Thursday 7th July 2011 with an event featuring performances by young people from across the Humber Region.

To mark this special occasion, community musician Donna Smith worked on a large-scale collaborative composition with young people across the region, including a group of ex Youth Music Mentors, to create a special Music4U Happy Birthday song, emulating the Nigerian/Afrobeat funk stylings of Fela Kuti. (You can listen to the recording at the bottom of this page). The group also learnt and perfomed a traditional, West African, celebratory drumming and singing piece called Kuku

The young people worked in separate groups during the months leading up to the performance and came together as an ensemble for the first time as part of the celebrations. The collective, known as The Rhythm Pixies, has been highly praised by their director, Donna. She commented: "They had a lot of input into the creation of the songs and in just 90 minutes on the day of the performance, got to know each other and brought the piece together fantastically. It has been a really interesting project and has involved young people from different musical backgrounds - classical, jazz, rock, funk playing a whole range of instruments include djembes, taiko drums, guitars, trumpets, keyboard, percussion, trombones and singers."

Following the special birthday commission, each local authority selected groups to showcase their work. The line-up featured the Goole-based rock group Rhodes from the East Riding of Yorkshire, who performed a set along with singer-songwriter Molly Curtis; the spectacular Gyoko Youth Taiko Japanese drumming group from North East Lincolnshire; Hull's Freedom Road Creative Arts vocal group Freedom Road Collective; and a crowd-pleasing Abba Gold and Pirates of the Caribbean set from North Lincolnshire's Vale of Ancholme Technology and Music College Brass Ensemble.

Nicola Dixon, Youth and Community Arts Co-ordinator for Goole Town Council was accompanying the rock/funk group Rhodes (who also represented Music4U on the 2010 Power Tour) and singer/songwriter Molly Curtis. She said Music4U had really helped to change the lives of these young people. Rhodes had formed as a result of a Music4U project and has gone from strength to strength, grown in confidence musically and personally and grabbed every opportunity offered. She added: "This birthday project has been a real challenge to them and it has been great for them to work on a big group piece and perform alongside 60 others in a collaborative way. There are lots of different influences; they have to listen and learn from each other. Being part of Music4U has given them so many more outlets to get involved in."

The young drummers forming the Gyoko Youth Taiko Group from Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire mastered the art of taiko drumming and choreographed movement with the help of community musicians Lisa Oliver and Emma Nicholson. Aged between 10 - 12 years old and only having performed publicly on a few occasions since they formed last September, the young musicians were excellent. They said it was very tiring on their arms playing the taiko drums but great fun!

Jayne Keeler, who lead The Vale of Ancholme Technology and Music College Brass Ensemble from North Lincolnshire, said the students had thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Music4U 10th birthday celebrations, particularly as this was their first time performing on the northern side of the Humber River. She added: "It was also great to mix with other musicians who performed such a diverse range of music".

The Freedom Road Collective from Hull presented their vocal group The Saturday Gleeks and soloist Rose Elliott, performing songs by The Beatles and Oasis. Ian Bolton, Freedom Road Collective's Project Manager congratulated Music4U for organising such a fantastic event. He commented: "Every act was outstanding and the diversity in those acts just demonstrated the huge talent in this area. I have attended the last three Music4U events and last night certainly carried on the brilliant advert for the Project. Long may it continue and we hope to remain involved."

Ruth Drake, Arts Development Officer from Hull, said it was great for the young people to be involved in this project; there was loads of energy and creativity and the sound was fantastic. She recognised the importance of the Action Zone in Hull: "Young people have not just benefited from today but for the last ten years - the progression is obvious!"

Christina Coker, Chief Executive at Youth Music issued the following statement about Music4U

"Many congratulations to Music4U on achieving 10 years of wonderful work in the Humber region. Through the work of this fantastic Youth Music Action Zone, young people have had the chance to work with professional musicians, develop new skills, integrate with their community and peers and have taken part in nationally recognised music festivals. With great tenacity, over the last 10 years, Music4U has reached out and connected with thousands of young people, many of whom would otherwise never have had these opportunities.

Furthermore, Music4U is an excellent example of how partnerships with local authorities and other key organisations can work well together to produce the best possible outcomes for the young people they support. For example, having the National Centre for Early Music as the host organisation has guaranteed exemplary project delivery as well as artistic integrity.

Music4U has also provided community musicians with excellent training programmes and many employment opportunities - and this is just the tip of the iceberg. At heart, however, most importantly is Music4U's commitment to young people and making a real difference. I know the journeys young people have taken in and through their music making have meant a great deal to them - developing potential, improving life chances and, for some, playing an important part in helping them deal with significant challenges in their lives. So, on behalf of all those young people, Youth Music, and all those who have been part of and supported this Action Zone's work, I wish Music4U a very Happy 10th Birthday and say a heartfelt "thank you" for all you have achieved. Excellent work on which to build for the future."

Happy Birthday Music as performed by the young people

KuKu - Celebratory drumming and singing piece

Gyoko Youth Taiko Group

See all images from the day here