Let nature be your teacher
SongPath is a mental health initiative designed to provide participants with nourishing ways of connecting through walking, talking & music-making in the beautiful landscapes of South Cumbria & beyond. We raise funds for our two local branches of the mental health charity Mind: Mind in Furness & Ulverston Mind.
So what exactly is a SongPath? Well, we take a short route – two to three miles – and through engaging with that route and the people we find on it, we reveal a wealth of connections to music, art, poetry & science, immediately accessible and united by common roots. We re-enchant our surroundings by deepening and enriching our appreciation of what lies underfoot and over head. We also reveal connections to ourselves, past, present and future, and to each other: “an unexpectedly powerful camaraderie”, one 2019 participant said.
Why do this? All mental health conditions are characterised by disconnection: from ourselves, our families, our friends & the world around us. At SongPath, we think the road to disconnection is a bit too well travelled.
The brain is an inherently connective structure: a rich, intricate web of interrelations and associations. SongPath reflects, harnesses & cultivates this beautiful, powerful & exponential connectivity. By stepping onto the SongPath, we can learn to see things differently: not through a lens of fear, but with a kind, imaginative curiosity, and with hope. The ash tree we touch here and now shapeshifts into the ash tree of your childhood garden or the Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Ancient Norse Mythology; Cedric Robinson walking the sands of Morecambe Bay might point us to J.M.W. Turner’s paintings of the same seascape just a century before or Franz Liszt’s wonderful depiction for piano of St Francis of Paola miraculously walking the Strait of Messina to Sicily in 1464. The wandering of the legs gives rise to the wandering of the mind, across centuries, continents, modes of thought, fact, fiction, emotions, memories, and back again. In an industrial and digital age of bodily disconnection, music & walking also restore our attunement to natural bodily rhythms. Good mental health is to be found in connections & SongPath has them in spades.
It is not that something different is seen, but that one sees differently. It is as though the spatial act of seeing were changed by a new dimension.
Co-founder & contralto
Jess is from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, and is one of the co-founders of SongPath. As a contralto performing around the world, her passion is Lieder, and she enjoys putting together programmes of poetry and song inspired by the landscapes around her.
During his illustrious career, Martin Roscoe has become one of the UK’s most loved and respected pianists. With his extensive repertoire, consummate musicianship and immediate connection with audiences, he is in great demand as a concerto soloist, chamber musician and recitalist. Martin appears regularly at Wigmore Hall and has long-standing associations with many of the UK’s leading orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Symphony. A prolific recording artist, Martin has a distinguished discography and is one of the most broadcast pianists on BBC radio.
Senior Lecturer, University of Cumbria
Rufus Harrington is a Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the University of Cumbria.
Helen is from Coventry in the West Midlands and has joined the SongPath team as Event Administrator. Following three years working in arts administration Helen became a freelance singer and is now combining her passions of singing and event organisation with studying for a vocal masters degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Alongside her career Helen is a keen long distance runner and enjoys having the opportunity to experience her everyday landscapes differently when training.
We are delighted that SongPath’s first event will be a collaboration with Ulverston Music Festival, which has been treating audiences in Cumbria to the top musical stars of our generation since 2004. The festival also includes a programme of schools workshops, masterclasses and the Ulverston Festival Chorus for local singers.
Swarthmoor Hall is a 16th century country house set in beautiful gardens and grounds, in 130 acres of farmland in South Cumbria, and known as the home of Quakerism.
For almost 70 years ROSL Arts has developed a diverse portfolio of activities in music, visual arts, and literature, with a devotion to the career development of talented young visual artists, musicians and writers from the UK and the Commonwealth.
SongPath are indebted to the support of Rotary, who give their time and talents to serve their local community.