Professor Jackie Kay features in digital film series with Manchester Camerata

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Manchester Camerata is set to broadcast a brand-new series of online films on United We Stream. Commissioned and curated especially by the orchestra during these unique and unprecedented times – the Untold series tells the remarkable and intimate personal stories of real people in the community through film, storytelling, prose and of course stunning music performed from The Monastery in Gorton.

Untold begins on 1 October with ‘Caroline’. As one of Camerata’s Violinists and Co-Leaders, Caroline Pether reveals her own struggle and journey to acceptance as a gay, Christian woman in this moving and deeply personal film set to music by Haydn, Arvo Pärt, Strauss and Harbison performed by Caroline and her fellow Camerata musicians. This opening film also features original spoken word written and performed by University Chancellor and Scots Makar Professor Jackie Kay.

Professor Jackie Kay said: “It was such a rich experience working with Manchester Camerata. I had never before listened to someone's (Caroline in this case) choice of music and then tried to write a poem that bounced off some of those musical notes. Another first was trying to write in poem form the experience of somebody else and having the opportunity to interview Caroline for the poem! Her experience as a lesbian who felt alienated and locked out of her church was so moving to me and made me think of all of us who have felt they had to keep a secret. But more than that it made me think about the healing power and energy of letting the secret out!

“It was an amazing experience too being filmed in the very beautiful building that is Gorton Monastery, where we were all apart and yet together; all of us observing social distancing, managed to create something that I hope will resonate with people. Caroline's music choices are sublime and her story needed to be told.”

Each film is directed by award winning Northern filmmaker Paul Sapin who has previously held masterclasses with School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology students. BA (Hons) Television and Radio Production graduate Teona Bonsu was hand-picked to work on the project alongside Paul.

Lyndon Saunders, Lecturer in Broadcast Media, said: “The project is a fantastic collaboration and a beautifully artistic series of films. With Manchester Camerata and director Paul Sapin, the BA in TV and Radio Production course was delighted to use our established talent pipeline to recommend one of our brand new graduates, Teona Bonsu, to work as a camera assistant and runner on the project; thus widening the partnership of this project and its positive impact aims even further”.

Beth Hewitt, Creative Director – MediaCityUK Directorate, added: “So many of these projects evolve through our academics' strong working relationships with industry, and it is productions such as this that enable our MediaCity UK students to gain hands-on media industry experience, time and time again.”

This special project brought media industry professionals and new emerging talent together and provided the opportunity for media graduate, Teona Bonsu to shine. This is a truly impressive start to Teona's career and we wish her all the very best for the future.”

 Every film in the Untold series tells a different story – with each one bound by the same goal – ‘to heal through music’ (Gábor Takács-Nagy, Music Director). The series addresses universal themes of identity, belonging, loss, love, community and inequality with music performed by Camerata musicians very much at the heart of each one.  

Untold marks a bold and creative departure for the orchestra fusing music, spoken word, film and multi camera work both for the first time and at a time when live performance is heavily restricted but much needed. These films enable Manchester Camerata – an orchestra that puts community impact front and centre – to remain connected to the needs of its musicians, collaborators, audiences and the wider community.

Subsequent films to be made in the series – for which Manchester Camerata is currently fundraising and seeking donations - will feature both Camerata musicians and collaborators including its Music Director Gábor Takács-Nagy  and musician Peter Hook. The series will continue to reveal personal experiences of early onset dementia, repatriation, identity and stories of renewal and reinvention.

Gábor Takács-Nagy, Camerata’s Music Director comments: “After this crazy time, when the whole world was sick, more than ever music is needed to serve as a spiritual medicine to help the healing process. And with these films created by and with our orchestra, our musicians and our collaborators we very much hope our music, our stories and our personal revelations can reach out to show people not only are they not alone but that we can all come together wherever we are bound and united by music as therapy, as comfort and as joy.”

Caroline – the first in Manchester Camerata’s Untold Series streams at 8pm on Thursday 1st October on United We Stream. Dates and times of the remaining series are to be released at a later date. 

Watch the trailer

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