I came back from We Out Here feeling like a different person in a really great way. There were many things from that festival that I really loved. I played with NYJO and it just felt great.
Amelia Wilding, NYJO Over 18s musician
Community is the first word that comes to mind when we think about the workshops that happened at We Out Here 2023; the feedback from young musicians, participants and staff show that the NYJO Learning team was able to create an atmosphere that was both inclusive and expressive. And this all originated because of Pharaoh Sanders.
Having seen him at We Out Here 2022 (WOH), one of our Under 18s musicians wanted to create a workshop around Sanders to commemorate his legacy; due to the fact that not long after his performance at WOH, Sanders sadly passed away. The initiative taken to listen, respond and nurture a young person’s idea in this way, was central to what we wanted to achieve. We felt this really added to the organic and profound nature of the final performance. These workshops and the final performance were ultimately a way to give back to the people who loved him, pay tribute to his memory, and potentially introduce a new audience to a Jazz icon.
We saw him the year before and it was a very emotional and inspirational experience; it sounded like a good idea to pay tribute.
Taylor Hylton, NYJO Under 18s member who inspired the project.
Andy Grappy – legendary Jazz educator and NYJO’s new Trustee – was a huge part of the nucleus of this project, having crafted the workshops and chosen the piece that influenced the process; ‘The creator has a masterplan’. But before even stepping on We Out Here soil, everyone involved prepared. The nature of this project was to draw various groups of people together who may never have met before if it wasn’t for this idea. A mixture of NYJO Under 18s and Emerging Professionals came together to play, share stories about Pharaoh Sanders and discuss the ways in which this project should be approached. Within this space they were able to bond and come together to improvise and tap into the same experiences and premonitions that inspired Sanders’ work.
We started the day off sitting in a circle, talking together about what we wanted to get out of the project, talking about the memories of Pharaoh Sanders from WOH 2022… It felt like they had a space where Andy gave them a real sense of safety.
Beth Ismay, NYJO Learning Programmes Manager.
With no sheet music or indicators of what was ‘right’ to play, a lot of what transpired at WOH was from an intrinsic part of who we are as human beings, our own creativity. Having the freedom to express yourself is something that was integral to the way Pharaoh Sanders played; where everything is centred from a place of feeling and spirituality, rather than focusing solely on technique. The workshops at the festival that led up to the performance introduced people to the Tuba for the first time, through sessions led by Andy, as well as sessions led by Lara Lee (aka FLOetic Lara), which allowed people to explore percussion and how to use their voice. Having such experienced, creative, and sensitive leaders for this project allowed the initial idea to truly flourish into something very special.
It feels as though without Andy’s guidance and FLO’s grounding presence, this might not have worked in the way that it did; Andy’s oversight of all the workshops helped to keep the project feeling both coherent and poignant. This was inspiring to many people throughout the project; from NYJO staff to Emerging Professionals:
Just seeing Andy do his thing and being inspired by that; and how Andy can ignite that fire in the young people’s eyes… It’s also sparked more of an interest in me in terms of education of the next generation and just wanting to try and spread that positivity to those younger musicians.
Nadav Schneerson, NYJO Assistant Educator
That’s what’s so impressive and powerful about Andy, he can deliver the most amazing workshop for you and then he’ll be in the van, tetrising all the equipment.
Beth Ismay, NYJO Learning Programmes Manager.
Festivals, however, are not inherently straightforward; there were variables that weren’t always within our control. One being we were stationed in the Family Field. This initially felt like a hindrance to many involved in the project, as everyone wanted varied age groups to be able to interact with what was happening. Despite the challenge this was considered a great learning curve as there is something quite special in helping families create special memories together.
As we close the curtain on We Out Here 2023, we’d like to thank all the incredible individuals who made this project a resounding success – from the NYJO educators and musicians who took part, to all the festival goers who joined us, each of you contributed to an atmosphere where creativity, boldness and collaboration made for an experience that we hope will have a lasting impact.
We can’t wait to see you again!