When we first proposed our commission – You Are Here – for this year’s LIMF, it was to be a piece that took as its starting point the centenary of WW1 – of how, a century later, the countries in our corner of the world feel about the notion of ‘home’, and of how that concept informs the music we make.
What does home sound like?
We wanted to work with musicians from the UK, France and Russia especially – because these countries formed the ‘Triple Entente (from the French entente: “friendship, understanding, agreement”). And because, musically, we knew that would make for a fascinating stew.
The trio of nations formed an alliance linking the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland – and created a counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy.
That was it. It was to be an exploration of how music can both unite, and also locate us. In a time, and in a place. How the ground beneath our feet can shape the thoughts in our head. Now, 100 years after the trenches and the terror.
And then Russia clawed back Crimea, planes fell from the sky, and Israel and Palestine erupted into a full scale humanitarian disaster on our doorstep.
Meanwhile, many of us vented our anger at the fact that the Council had contracted out its security provision to G4S, a company that – it transpired – provides services and equipment to Israel’s prisons (which hold Palestinian political prisoners) – places at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners.
Yes. The ground beneath our feet has shifted. So what should we do?
We should play on.
You Are Here feels more visceral than ever (although, truth is, we’re still working on it…). The work – a joint composition between West Kirby’s Bill Ryder Jones, Liverpool’s Kof and John Hering (aPAtT), France’s Moongai, Russia’s Noonwraith and Archngl and the Manchester Camerata and ourselves might have a prescience we never envisaged. The specially commissioned artwork by Josie Jenkins, and the video installations by Christopher Marsh a resonance we could never have foresaw.
But mostly, though, we’re amazed at how these artists have collaborated, in person, through Google Hangouts, file swapping and head scratching, problem solving and skill sharing. How we’ve made friends with some amazingly talented people from Nantes, and Moscow and Manchester.
About how home is an act of welcome, not an act of exclusion – and the more we work together, the closer we all become. That’s what Yaw and the team at LIMF are trying to do: with its commissions strand, the festival is saying Liverpool doesn’t just parachute in the same festival-circuit-going B list bands, and lazily sits back and counts the cash.
Yeah, there’s the Radio 1Xtra stuff in the park, and MTV in Camp and Furnace, but we’re not especially bothered about that. What we approve of is the city as a catalyst for something new – with Steve Levine’s Assembly Sessions, Sense of Sound’s Migration Music and The Quietus all pushing and prodding music into strange and wonderful new directions. Not endless flash mobs of Love Me Do singsongs.
Remember the horror of Mathew Street?
It’s early days. But the signs are encouraging. LIMF is trying to do what the city does best – foster creativity and collaboration, and encourage understanding and diversity.
And that, more now than ever, is something we should support.
We do hope you can make it. We’d love to see you there. The piece will be performed just once.
SevenStreets/LIMF Presents ‘You Are Here’
Sefton Park Palm House
Saturday 23 August, 8pm
Tickets £5 from Eventbrite.
We’ll be donating our fee to Medecins Sans Frontiers. To win a pair of tickets, retweet us on Twitter by Friday 22nd August.