The Eco-Scape: Recycled Rhythms workshop is designed to be a fun, interactive way to teach a dry subject. The free event, being held as part of the Eco Future environmental exhibition at Manarat Al Saadiyat, is open to children between 6 and 15. Those who attend will be encouraged to explore instrument-making and performance using environmentally sustainable material.
The UK-based maestro Henry Bennett, a composer and performer adept at both choral and pop music, says he was always interested in how music broke cultural and language barriers. This was the main reason behind him leaving a rather comfortable career as performer in London to head to China, and later his first spell in the UAE, as both a teacher and musical mentor. “I want to challenge myself and see what I can do,” he says. “I really fell in love with being in an alien world. I am like that with my art, for things to be weird and wild.” Bennett says he has been carrying the idea for this workshop for years. He explains the UAE is a perfect location to finally bring the concept to life. “It is so important out here,” he says. “It is a dry, arid landscape and we need to be doing our best to preserve life here, more so than anywhere else in the world in a way.”
And on the plastic bottles and cans
Ollie Tumner’s passion for making melodic sense of bits and scraps stems from his witnessing his first performance of the groundbreaking British percussion group Stomp as an 11-year-old more than two decades ago. “I remember not long after, me and my brother were on a family holiday and we were swimming in the lake and started playing water music because we had just seen the show.” In 2004 he landed his “dream job” as a workshop leader and performer with the group, touring Europe and America. After his Stomp stint ended, Tumner began conducting workshops using the skills developed during his time with the group – while adding his own personal twist. “My part of the workshop is the music-making,” he says. “I am going to tell the kids that I haven’t written any music yet so we are going to do this together. Obviously I will have some patterns that I would use but I will be open to all ideas.”
With additional help from the Arabic music specialist Jason Carter, the workshop will focus first on creating the instruments before moving on to a 15-minute performance. Participants have two time slots to make instruments, either from 6pm to 7.15 or 8pm to 9.15. The live performances will follow each session. Although Tumner specialises in Brazilian drumming, he hopes participants can teach him some Emirati rhythms. “In Bahrain I was doing a workshop with some office workers and one of them played a Bahraini fishing song,” he recalls. “I just sat back and watched the group play these songs they used to sing as kids.”
• Eco-Scape: Recycled Rhythms is a free event to be held at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Wednesday from 6pm until 10pm. During the evening visitors can also gain free access to the Eco Future exhibition. For details, visit www.saadiyatculturaldistrict.ae or call 02 657 5800