by Author Debbie Geraghty

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The interactive event was the culmination of a two year intergenerational ‘musical relay’ project called ‘Pass the Baton’ that's brought music made by Plymouth Music Zone’s diverse range of participants together to form one beautiful score. The finished musical piece aimed to capture the musical and human connections that sometimes happen in the most unlikely of places and ways. 

Plymouth Music Zone’s Training and Research Manager, Anna Batson, creatively produced the Pass the Baton project and says:  

“It’s about acknowledging and treasuring tiny moments, gestures and contributions within a much bigger picture. Knowing that everyone is precious and all these human connections are valuable and there’s so much to be gained by just really listening and giving people time to be themselves and make music whether we’re together or apart.  We’ve had to consider different ways of working with different groups while making sure the musical material retains its integrity so people recognise their input and musical identities”.   

The resulting music was used to inspire an animated film created by the Oscar winning animator Virpi Kettu. The distinguished animator/filmmaker from Finland made her mark with the likes of Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts animations via Aardman Productions in Bristol as well as working on music videos with bands like Radiohead etc. Virpi was specially invited to Plymouth Music Zone to film and make animations to bring the music to life.

Filmmaker and animator Virpi Kettu says:  

“I have to say it’s one of the best projects I’ve ever had the joy of working on. I’ve worked for so many different organisations but Plymouth Music Zone really is a very special and rare place especially in the way that it treats people with such care and respect. I had such a wonderful time with all the participants and can’t wait to come back again. People really need to know about and learn from this place!” 

The film explores musical and human connections and tells the story of their Pass the Baton musical journeys and the warmth and connections that exist between them. The Arts Council funded ‘Pass the Baton’ project set out to orchestrate and deepen creative links especially among those people most often excluded from the arts. 

It aimed to artistically challenge Plymouth Music Zone's wide range of participants, practitioners and the organisation itself by working for the first time on a single piece of original music collectively assembled by the many groups that PMZ works with - all ages, backgrounds, abilities, disabilities and cultures. The score was created by working with groups in education, health and social care settings across Plymouth and then produced in PMZ's recording studio. 

Plymouth Music Zone’s Executive Director, Debbie Geraghty, says: 

“We loved the idea of doing a ‘musical relay’ where we could create something truly wonderful that would bring together and capture the joy of the sheer diversity of our work.  It was a real creative departure for Plymouth Music Zone and certainly the first time we’ve made music with over 100 participants using anything from knitting patterns and photocopiers to fire extinguishers! But it was also an exciting challenge for our Music Leaders and the organisation knowing how passionate we are about demonstrating that those people often excluded from the arts have so much to share and celebrate creatively and should be given the highest quality experiences possible. I hope the message that comes out of this is that doing things differently but together can be very powerful indeed”.

Unusually, these various groups added their own separate parts to the piece that were then brought together to form the beautiful finished score as well as an additional one called "In Sea". The film debuted at a special 'Pass the Baton' interactive exhibition at Plymouth Music Zone on 28 February where the music and film was experienced by visitors alongside everything created over the last 2 years. It included a wide array of paintings, photographs, knitted scores, Cymatic voice wave forms from a US tech firm and a gamut of intriguing interactive technological set ups done in partnership with donations from international award winning Plymouth firm, Pyramid AV. 

Those visiting the exhibition were able to interact and take part in more music-making sessions. The recordings on the day will be further added to the sounds in the exhibition and shared when complete.

For further information about Pass the Baton or about Plymouth Music Zone’s work, please contact PMZ’s Development Manager Jeany Robinson, on 01752 213692.

Link to Pass the Baton film and original music score: