SongPath 2019: A Song Sleeps in All Things
Our inaugural event took place in June 2019 in collaboration with Ulverston International Music Festival. We created a trail bursting with music, song, poetry, meditation and dance from the coastal village of Bardsea to Swarthmoor Hall, via Birkrigg Common & Swarthmoor Hall Wood. We also held preparatory sessions throughout the year at Mind in Furness for service users & volunteers & began the route with a fair of stands to showcase local wellbeing organisations.
The event was free for all; we emphasised that no-one should be put off attending due to financial reasons. We also provided a free transport service from Ulverston. However, donations were encouraged to the mental health charity Mind. Our suggested donation was £10 and all money raised was split between our two local branches: Mind In Furness & Ulverston Mind.
We were thrilled to raise a total of £5796.75 (with GiftAid).
There were 120 walkers, 20 local & London-based professional classical & folk musicians, one of whom was the internationally renowned concert pianist Martin Roscoe, as well as a newly formed Mind Choir, Furness Music Centre Community Choir, the cognitive behavioural therapist Rufus Harrington and other speakers we literally found on route in our preparations. All gave their time and skills on a voluntary basis. Hampstead Parish Church, where Jess is the regular alto kindly released their professional choir for the day & were also extremely generous in their donations to our chosen branches of Mind. Everyone, performers & participants, walked together. Those with reduced mobility were provided with a minibus service & people were free to take part in as much or as little of the day as they liked.
Stewarding was primarily & generously provided by The Rotary Club of Furness Peninsula, assisted by Furness, Barrow & Ulverston Rotary Clubs. Refreshments were provided by Inner Wheel & staff at Swarthmoor Hall. We were greatly helped in our logistical planning by Furness Peninsula Rotarian John McGill, also of BeWellFest.
SongPath is hugely grateful to the Royal Overseas League’s Roderick Lakin Professional Development Award and other private donations, without which our first event would not have been possible. SongPath 2019 was held in memory of Roderick Lakin, MBE, the organisation’s beloved former Director of Arts who died tragically in 2015. The Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) is a not-for-profit private members’ organisation dedicated to championing international friendship and understanding. They help artists and musicians across the Commonwealth connect, collaborate and create. In addition to their financial aid, ROSL, and particularly their current Director of Arts Geoff Parkin provided mentoring to Jess in the run-up to June’s event. She also benefited from invaluable administrative help from her agent, Hazard Chase Artists Management, Ulverston International Music Festival & Mind in Furness.
SongPath 2019 Schedule
Sunday 16 June 2019
Bardsea – Birkrigg Common – Swarthmoor
10am Holy Trinity, Bardsea
- Tea and coffee served
We begin our journey in the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, with views over Morecombe Bay. There will be music from internationally renowned pianist Martin Roscoe, contralto Jess Dandy and our eight-part SongPath choir, and an introduction to CBT from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy expert Rufus Harrington. Everyone is invited to join in with our SongPath Anthem, composed by Michael Higgins with a text by Emily Dickinson: ‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers’.
11:45am Bardsea Green
The first part of our walk takes in glorious views over the bay and sands, and along the way we’ll encounter pop up birdsong with flautist Anastasia Micklethwaite on Bardsea Green.
12:30pm Birkrigg Common Stone Circle
At the historic stone circle on Birkrigg Common, we enjoy our picnic lunch under the open skies. Along with Cumbrian folk music on the Cumbrian Pipes from Carolyn Francis, we’ll hear about the magnificent geology of the Limestone Pavement (including Norman Nicholson’s poetry), as well as the ritual history of the stone circle.
2:15pm Cumbrian Cow
- Toilets available
- Ice-cream served
In this open-sided building that was once a cow-shed, we’ll enjoy an ice-cream as we hear more Cumbrian folk music from Carolyn Francis, this time on the fiddle.
3:30pm Swarthmoor Hall Wood
As we journey on through the ancient Swarthmoor Hall Wood, the surroundings inspire soundscapes from harpist Mary Dunsford and the Furness Music Centre Choir. We also hear from our guest speaker Paul Littlewood from The Woodland Trust about the surrounding forest habitat.
4:10pm Swarthmoor Hall – Wildflower Meadow
- Tea and cake served
As we reach the final destination of today’s journey, enjoy tea and cake in the Wildflower Meadow at Swarthmoor Hall, while the SongPath Choir and Martin Roscoe perform songs inspired by flowers.
4:30pm Swarthmoor Hall – Conference Room & Courtyard
We end the day in the historic Swarthmoor Hall, home of the Quakers, with music from Martin Roscoe, Jess Dandy and the SongPath Choir, and poetry from Neil Curry. A meditation on light will be led by Jane Pearson from Swarthmoor Hall. As the day ends, there will be the opportunity for small groups to take part in an optional exercise in The Labyrinth outside in the Wildflower Meadow, led by CBT expert Rufus Harrington.
SongPath 2019 Event Programme
SongPath 2019 Participant Feedback
- “Fantastic organisation – thanks to all the stewards who made the walk so easy to follow. The music was sublime and lovely to have the mix of poetry and types of music and to have the two local choirs join in. I am sure for the Mind singers it was a memorable and inspiring opportunity. Organising the ice cream (and the weather to rain whilst we were undercover) was also inspired.”
- “Please take this event to other areas, it is a brilliant combination.”
- “The success of producing music relating to and included in the natural environment. The choirs were beautiful and the instrumental works in the open air were so thought provoking.”
- “It was relaxed, good fun, not pressurised. The music was very wonderful. I was especially moved by the harp in the woodlands beside the stream. The choirs were really excellent. I also appreciated the meditation and talk about the reaction of the brain to music. I stayed to walk the maze at the end and treated it as an opportunity to thank you all in a very quiet way for bringing a sense of tranquillity to us all. I came with an open mind and enjoyed every moment of the day. Thank you all for the careful thought and hard work and the “giving of yourselves” to the event.”
- “We appreciated it on all sorts of levels but I think the most important part was the link made between Mental Well-being and both walking and music.”
- “It just unfurled. Everything became possible on the SongPath.”
- “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
- “Thank you so much to Jess and Martin in particular. Lots of moving moments and wonderful music during the day. The SongPath choir was just superb. A huge thank you to Jess and Jo for your inspiration and hard work and to all the helpers who made it run so smoothly and safely. Love to you all. Until next time…”
- “I think it was a real triumph and I could easily see this format working in many other areas across the UK.”
- “Thank you for such a fulfilling day.”