Castaway Music Theatre, Goole


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While in York, and thanks to the kind people who run the National Centre for Early Music, I was able to spend some time with The Sloop Group, young musicians who are part of Castaway “accessible music theatre” company in Goole, Yorkshire. We spent an interesting hour listening to and discussing extended pieces devised and performed by the group, aided by helpers from Castaway including animateur Tom Sherman, co-director Jo Glover and NCEM’s Emily Crossland.

The Sloop Group cover an interesting range of instruments from ukelele to bass guitar, and of course I particularly enjoyed their ‘tribute version’ (with added torch song) of my wind piece Airs from Another Planet. All the group struck me as actively committed to music – it was from their website I learned that Castaway supports ‘adults and young people with learning and physical disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions’ (something tells me these people have to fill in a lot of grant applications…) It’s worth visiting their Facebook site to find out about Castaway’s ceaseless cycle of activities and productions, supported by an engaged group of volunteers in Goole.

Living with disabilities, it must make a big difference to have an organisation like this on your doorstep. It’s characteristic of my trips around the country that I feel both cheered to discover a musical/social intervention working really well, and sad to realise how unusual it is.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer