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New Gen - a term full of performance

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

By Kristin Caswell, New Gen Session Leader & Out Loud Music Project Coordinator

Photo credit: John Ferguson

This term for New Gen has been absolutely ram-packed with rehearsing, live performance and community activity. They kicked off the term with the whole of the New Gen group performing on the Global Village stage for Mayday. They performed two original songs collaboratively and then two of the artists also had their own solo sets.

K - Mayday was an amazing experience and it was wonderful to see the local community come together with so much talent

A belated Black History Month film screening was held at The Smokehouse in May. Stella Frangleton, Diverse Communities Advisor for Suffolk Police, screened a collection of short independent films with a chance for New Gen to get involved with Q&A’s and discuss their thoughts and feelings after each piece. It was a brilliant first session for 5 new attendees and a great turn-out of 14 young people engaging in discussion.

The following week we had Jane Dyball (music coordinator of Primadonna Festival) come into chat to our young people about her extensive career in the music industry. Jane also offered up her email for individuals to reach out to her for solo slots and feedback as well as inviting New Gen to Primadonna Festival to play. We then got them jamming to see the new attendees getting stuck into some music making! Two of our young people also played at the Jess Grant gig in The Smokehouse afterwards, with a few attendees joining the audience in support.

At the start of the following session we began working towards the goal of more collaborations for live shows. One group decided they wanted to focus on a more ‘rock’ track and chose cover song ‘Bellyaches’ by No Hot Ashes. It was great to see some youth leadership with a few of the more experienced young people pushing themselves by trying a second or new instrument, whilst helping some newer attendees work out their parts for the song. They managed to get the groove down and could run the verse and chorus loosely by the end of their first session.

Two other groups split off to work on original music; one going down a drill route and the other an acoustic duet. The young people were also given the opportunity to work on production in the new Mac Suite, working well in the studio independently and with assistance, depending on the level of support needed. They all made a positive start on their music arrangements. It became apparent we needed a press shot for future slots such as Primadonna and the upcoming Britten Pears Arts Aldeburgh Festival, so New Gen attendee J was invited to take some photos of the group on his film camera. They also got individual press shots taken for their own use in promoting any of their individual artist projects.

In June we took one of our young people to perform at the Diversity Festival at West Suffolk College to perform, where she was swarmed by primary school children asking for autographs! The end of June saw our performance at Leiston Bandstand for the last date of Aldeburgh Festival, where 10 of our young people perform both in band, solo and duo set-ups. Off the back of this gig they were also recommended to support local band Bonuru!

July was an even busier month, with two of our young people performing at the Global Rhythms festival. They were fantastic, both taking to the stage very well with confidence in expressing themselves creatively. This also translated really well with the live audience who were highly engaged. Another one of our young people also assisted in the stage managing of the Global Village stage, and took part in the off-the-cuff jam with New Gen tutor Gil.

Beatboxer, rapper and activist Natty visited the group from London with a session planned around the theme of ‘Youth Voice’. It began with Natty talking about his work organising and presenting stages in different festivals (including Glastonbury) and retelling the journeys of different artists he’d worked with. Working around a central theme ‘Voice’ the young people talked about what this meant to them. Natty then asked around the circle what individually they would protest, with them all sharing very personal opinions and experiences. S then performed a song she had written a few days ago about female rights - it got an incredible reaction and Natty was very impressed!

T - I would protest the right to making society more accessible for those with invisible social or mental health issues. The world isn’t built for people like us

Extra off-site activity included performances on the Cornhill for Britten Pears Arts ‘Young Music Day’, slots at Future Female Society Festival and even four sets at Ipswich Academy.

We also took three of our New Gen crew to the Latitude Festival this year to play in The Inbetweeners area. They were absolutely incredible and had an amazing turn-out!

S - I’m so grateful I got to share the Latitude experience with some great musician friends and amazing leaders

To wrap up the term, New Gen had a dress rehearsal for Primadonna in The Smokehouse in which they invited friends and family along. Primadonna itself was also a wonderful platform, with a killer set-list totalling 13 songs! They were also interviewed by Emily from BBC Suffolk for an upcoming broadcast.

This term has been a fantastic one for progression, with one young person volunteering at the bar in The Smokehouse and two with South Street Kids! Another young person has also started learning about live sound after being taken to a local open mic, and is now being paid for live sound work at Three Wise Monkeys. We also sourced a free drum kit for one of our young people who said when he was happiest playing on the drums but didn’t own one. Many thanks to Making Waves tutor Emile for donating his kit, we are sure it will get lots of good use!

We are hugely proud to have 4 of our young people moving to London in September to continue their music studies at university! We wish the best of luck to New Gen graduates J, Z, S and S and hope to see them back again volunteering at some point in the future - look out for two of them returning to The Smokehouse in September for their second Firebrat show!

ICM is a charity and we rely on funding to ensure we can continue to offer unique and enriching experiences for young people. ICM's work is rooted in creating with the communities it serves rather than for them. To donate and support a young person to access our projects visit:

Your support makes a really big difference!

If you would like to join New Gen or know a young person who wants to make music then get in touch. New Gen is free and a great way to develop new skills, build new connections and collaborate.

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