Fast Forward Festival 2016: BBC Music Day at Colston Hall


Fast Forward Festival is a ground-breaking festival celebrating the quality and diversity of disability music making, hosted by Bristol Plays Music and partners.

A view from behind the crowd watching a groups of young musicians perform in front of a big BBC Music Day banner

Building on the fantastic event last year, today was part of BBC Music Day celebrations.

I arrived full of excitement and ready to for a jam packed day of music, breathing in the incredible space, light and atmosphere of Colston Hall.

When I arrived I spotted some familiar faces for Drake Music – from Open Up Music, OHMI, and Bristol Plays Music – and then I met Louise (our project manager for Absorbed By Sound) and her beautiful new baby Rosie, just before the group’s 12 o’clock performance.

A view from above the stage looking down at musicians setting up keyboards, iPads and amps

Absorbed By Sound members were really excited, they’d already performed at the high profile Sanctum venue this year so weren’t feeling too nervous.

We listened as the group as they sound checked, and were introduced to each player by Jonathan Westrup before they began to play a beautiful emotive piece using a mixture of conventional instruments and technology including drums, eyegaze, iPad, guitar, and vocals.

The highlight for me was Josh’s iPad solo which was accompanied by DM Associate Tara Baggott on piano.

At the end of the performance audience members were invited to come and conduct the group – with three young volunteers each taking their turn.

wide shot of Colston Hall foyer showing audence and musicians

The performance finished and the audience – as well as members of Absorbed by Sound – cheered.

See a short 20 sec clip of their performance here.

Young musicians on stage at Fast Forward Festival, smiling with instruments

In the afternoon I had the pleasure of going to an Open Up Music workshop upstairs, where I tried different music making technologies including an infra-red camera and an eyegaze (which was really tricky!).

The workshop was followed by a live broadcast on Radio 3 featuring choir performances and the South West Open Youth Orchestra.

The Open Up performances were stunning examples of the power of combining conventional instruments and expressive technology to remove barriers to playing music.

I sadly couldn’t stay for the evening performance, but I’m sitting on the train back to Yorkshire feeling inspired – already looking forward to Fast Forward Festival 2017!

Leave a Reply