|Barb Jungr with Corby’s Deep Roots Tall Trees Choir|
We interviewed Barb Jungr about her forthcoming premiere at Corby Football Ground in Northamptonshire, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
LondonJazz News: You are performing a new work in Corby. What’s the story?
Barb Jungr: The Song Cycle was commissioned in 2011 and I was asked to create a song cycle for the town’s choir Deep Roots Tall Trees. Corby had suffered some terrible times after the collapse of the British steel industry, which the town’s economic life had been built on.
LJN: You’ve worked closely with people in the town for a while?
BJ: I worked with local musicians who are now the band Head of Snakes and mentored songwriting and arranging and alongside which we formed a choir and asked the renowned choral director Gareth Fuller to take the Deep Roots Tall Trees choir helm and he agreed – so then we did a huge concert to celebrate the Core Theatre in Corby’s second birthday which was a huge success.
LJN: And the flow of good news has continued?
We got funding to repeat that process year two and wrote and arranged the second part of the song cycle Deep Roots Tall Tree – New Town Pioneers. Another concert. Then Corby received a big Arts Council England grant and they moved forward and asked me/us to do a stage 3 huge concert to launch a three year arts celebration of Corby – Made in Corby – with our Deep Roots Tall trees choir, band and songs, and collaborate with the Royal Philharmonic to stage a huge concert – on August 23rd – at the Football Ground – featuring the orchestra, musicians and choir, singing these songs of Corby, with me.
LJN: What is your association with Corby?
BJ: The town is special to me, because I used to spend a lot of time in Northamptonshire when I was married, my in-laws had a place in barn well, a village near Corby. Then I was asked to work at the new theatre – the Core – there, and then this happened. So I sort of feel – a bit like the Bob Dylan repertoire – that the town called me.
LJN: Who are the musicians ?
BJ: My musicians are local players – they are fine musicians and songwriters, many of them have worked in bands or folk units in and around the town for some time, one launched the Rock School there. One runs a CD recording and festival for other local musicians (Whiteark Festival). They are marvellous – George Reilly – guitar and vocals, Ian Cameron – bodhran and vocals, Nick Finn – bass, Mark Brennan guitar and vocals, and Paul Balmer guitar and percussion. They all write and also work with me on the arrangements. We are a strong team and I’m thrilled with the way everyone has grown. The Choir are 40-plus strong and from them I have worked with a core group of women on songwriting and we have written the two opening songs in the song cycle which will feature on the 23rd – Deep Roots Tall Trees – Long Live the Flame.
LJN: What are the songs about?
BJ: The songs are about Corby life, people, their preoccupations and the history and current life of the town.
LJN: Talk us through August 23rd.
BJ: The 23rd concert will take the following form – the head of Snakes, choir, Gareth, myself and a few other local musicians who join us just for this will perform 3 songs to welcome Corby to the evening. Then the RPO will perform 35 ish minutes of material selected by and with the people of Corby to reflect Corby’s history and industrial past (including Dambusters and Fingal’s Cave)
LJN: And then?
Barb Jungr: Then there’s an interval. Then there’s our song cycle – Deep Roots Tall Trees – Long Live the Flame. The flame represents the Corby candle – the symbol of the old steelworks and the spirit of Corby people. There are 9 songs and we will perform them alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with our arrangements and the orchestra conducted and arranged for the songs with us by the superb Anthony Weedon. He now takes away all our work and orchestrates the orchestra in greater and lesser form on each song. Some songs are fully orchestrated, some are enhanced. Its going to be amazing.
Song Cycle for Corby is produced by Corby Community Arts, in association with Orchestras Live and with support from Arts Council England