The Folkestone Futures Choir began with an invitation from Lewis Biggs, Curator of Folkestone Triennial 2014, to the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for the Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University (Matthew Shipton and Trish Vella-Burrows) to work with local choirs to develop a choral work to be shown as a video in the exhibition. Several community and ‘singing for health and wellbeing’ choirs, in and around Folkestone, were grouped together to form the 175 strong Folkestone Futures Choir.
The participants were invited to submit ‘complaints and aspirations’ for their town on a piece of card, answering the questions: What’s wrong with your town? How could it be a better place to live? The celebrated composer and saxophonist John Harle, and poet, documentary film maker and lyricist Tom Pickard, have collaborated to create a choral work entitled LOOKOUT! based on the cards submitted. The première performance took place at the Leas Cliff Hall on 29 May 2014, and the event was captured on film by Luke Menges.
The project was inspired by the Complaints Choirs, conceived by Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta Kalleinen, artists from Finland, as a literal expression of the Finnish phrase Valituskuoro (or, its English equivalent, a chorus of complaints). The artists have worked with city dwellers around the world to realise Complaints Choirs in Birmingham, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Hamburg, Chicago, Singapore, Copenhagen and Tokyo. The Folkestone project was undertaken with their encouragement but without their involvement.
John Harle is a celebrated English saxophonist, composer, conductor and record producer.
He is a prolific artist in many genres including classical, jazz and opera and has been commissioned on four occasions for the BBC Proms, including the Opera, Angel Magick, based on the life of Elizabethan alchemist John Dee. His second opera, The Ballad of Jamie Allan was commissioned by the Sage, Gateshead. Terror and Magnificence brought many of these historical influences together with vocalist Elvis Costello in a Grammy-nominated album that reached No.1 in the US Billboard charts.
He has composed over 100 scores including major feature films, television drama and documentaries. His latest CD with Marc Almond Tyburn Tree features Iain Sinclair.
Tom Pickard is a poet and documentary filmmaker, who was an initiator of, and significant figure in, the British Poetry Revival. He has worked with many leading musicians, including Sir Paul McCartney.
Since 2004 Harle and Pickard have collaborated on projects including the libretto Ballad of Jamie Allan for Sage Gateshead and Folkworks and City Solstice: A Song for London Bridge, which premiered at Southward Cathedral.
Tom Pickard’s publications include High on the Walls (1968), The Order of Chance (1971), Hero Dust: New and Selected Poems (1979), Tiepin Eros: New and Selected Poems (1994), fuckwind (1999) Hole in the Wall: New and Selected Poems (2002), The Dark Months of May (2004) and Ballad of Jamie Allan (2007); the last three published in Chicago by Flood Editions. Ballad of Jamie Allan was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award.
His part-autobiographical More Pricks Than Prizes was published in Boston by Pressed Wafer in 2010. His poem sequence “Lark and Merlin”, published in Poetry in 2010, won the Bess Hokin Prize in 2011.
Luke Menges has an extensive career as a cameraman, director and producer working across many genres – interview based documentaries, observational films, documentary dramas, commercials and feature films.
Before becoming a cameraman he trained as an editor on both feature films and documentaries before finally becoming a documentary editor for several years. But his real passion was photography. He has shot films for all the major British and international broadcasters.
As a Director and Producer, his work has included My Holiday Hostage Hell (TV series documentary) 2008; Madam Cyn’s Home Movies (TV movie documentary) 2006; Lost (TV series documentary) 2001; Dressing for the Oscars (TV movie documentary) 2000; Faking It (TV series) 2000.
As cinematographer, his work has included Long Lost Family (TV series – 3 episodes) 2012-3;