Séance + Testament & Matthew Bourne

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The Deaf Institute (The Lodge)

As a trailblazer event to herald the start of mjf 2024, we present the world première of this year’s mjf originals commission: Séance, created by Leeds based audio collective Better Songs, alongside a début performance by celebrated beatboxer Testament with world-renowned improviser Matthew Bourne. 

 * Please be aware that this performance incorporates subject matter to which some audiences may be sensitive.

Verity Watts turntables / Rosie Parsons electronics, sampled voices / Lara Jones saxophone, electronics / Lucy Nolan harp

A moving musical performance, transforming The Deaf Institute venue into a space for connection.

Built around voicemail messages from lost loved ones, artists Verity Watts and Rosie Parson will invite audiences to come together over shared experiences of loss and grief.

Many of us keep everyday messages or voicemails from loved ones after they have passed, and this piece seeks to create a space where they can be heard and responded to through music and sound, to honour the significance of these messages, and place them in a new and uplifting context.

Using the idea of a séance, the performance draws on the different ways we maintain a connection with those who are no longer with us. Using turntables, electronics and newly commissioned vocal motifs and samples from Testament MC, creative producers Verity Watts and Rosie Parsons (aka Better Songs) will work together with improvising performers Lara Jones (saxophone) and Lucy Nolan (harp), to create a supportive, shared space through sound and music. 

Better Songs

Better Songs is a Leeds-based audio collective formed by artists Rosie Parsons and Verity Watts. Working together to tell stories in new ways, they fall between the cracks of sound art, music, journalism and turntablism. Their mission is to “showcase the artistic power of sound, music and words, combining them in a way that connects an audience even more deeply to the content.”

Testament & Matthew Bourne

Testament voice & beatboxing / Matthew Bourne keyboards

Opening this special event, acclaimed rapper, poet and world record-holding human beatboxer Testament collaborates with award-winning and groundbreaking pianist and composer Matthew Bourne, to explore music and story inspired by similar themes to Séance.

This is a collaboration that wordsmith Test and sonic visionary Matthew have been wanting to make happen for years and is sure to be an expansive and exciting project!

Testament’s projects range from his critically lauded Homecut: No Freedom Without Sacrifice (First Word Records) writing plays like Black Men Walking (Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester/Eclipse Theatre/Royal Court), composing a poetic and musical response to Greek Myth Orpheus in the Record Shop with the musicians of Opera North, and many spoken word performances on BBC Radio 4, BBC TV and Sky Arts. Testament has collaborated with Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae, Mercury nominee Soweto Kinch, US rap legend J-Live and jazz heavyweights Joe Lovano and Jason Rebello.

Matthew Bourne’s work includes bringing infirm pianos back to life in Songs From A Lost Piano, collaborating with classical musicians of the London Sinfonietta in Written/Unwritten, the acclaimed solo piano albums, Montauk Variations and Isotach, and reinterpretations of Amon Tobin’s work for Ninja Tune. Bourne’s work has appeared on compilations by Bonobo and Hot Chip, and has featured in Paolo Sorentino’s 2018 film LORO. Bourne continues to develop his solo piano work (Désinances / Irrealis) and is currently working on several new projects – including new work with longtime collaborator Keeley Forsyth.

Venue Access

As both The Music Hall & The Lodge are both situated within The Deaf Institute’s beautiful listed building, they are unfortunately, for the time being, not accessible for wheelchair users. If customers require assistance travelling up and down the stairs, they are happy to assist given it is safe to do so. If reserved seating would help those who find standing difficult, the venue would be more than happy to arrange this for you.

Please contact them in advance at info@thedeafinstitute.co.uk and a member of their team will assist further. If you have any other needs they may be able to assist with, have any other questions or just want a chat, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Séance was produced with the generous support of PRS Foundation and Granada Foundation

Date: thursday 16 may

Time: 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Price: £9

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