Suzanne Lacy returns to Pendle with Ron Pen

9th March 2016

Respected musicologist Ron Pen is the latest US expert in the field to come to Pendle to participate in the ground breaking project Shapes of Water / Sounds of Hope


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Respected musicologist Ron Pen is the latest US expert in the field to come to Pendle to participate in the ground breaking project Shapes of Water / Sounds of Hope.

On March 16th at the ACE Centre in Nelson, Ron will be joining Suzanne Lacy in her second event exploring the community experience of living in Pendle and how this might be expressed using different vocal traditions, including Shape Note, which originated in in the UK hundreds of years ago and had a strong presence in Lancashire.

Ron Pen, a musicologist based at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, is an expert on early musical forms, particularly Shape Note, about which he made a documentary. He will be bringing his expertise to Pendle to work with members of the community in teaching them about Shape Note, a form of communal singing and which was used historically by Lancashire friends and families to socialise and worship hundreds of years ago. Some music historians have suggested that Shape Note stems from Lancashire folk not liking being told what to do and was a subversive act.

Suzanne hopes to address issues in the current community by drawing on a variety of vocal forms as diverse as folk singing to Sufi chanting with the aim of creating a mass participation event in September with around 1,000 people that reflects the diversity of the community, while addressing the hopes, dreams, aspirations and experiences of the individuals within it.

Laurie Peake, director of Super Slow Way, an ambitious arts commissioning programme in Pennine Lancashire, hopes the event will build on the success of last month’s meeting in Brierfield. “We are thrilled to welcome Ron Pen to Pendle to delve deeper into the meaning and significance of music, particularly Shape Note, and how it can be used as a form of expression for the community,” she said.

“It is wonderful for the area to have such an eminent musical specialist to come and work with the universal language of music that crosses cultural barriers. This will help build on the work Suzanne did last month, when nearly 100 people from a cross section of the Pendle community came together to share food, conversation and their varied cultural experiences. It was a great success and the best start to the project we could have hoped for.

“Next week we hope to build on this success and create more momentum in bringing 1,000 people together for an event in Brierfield Mill in September.”

Suzanne is working with In-Situ, an artists collective based in Brierfield as part of their In Residence programme. Paul Hartley, who co-founded the organisation, explained that there will be regular monthly meet-ups to explore these issues and how they might be expressed creatively. He invites all members of the community to attend: “Join us for the second evening of Shapes of Water / Sounds of Hope with artist Suzanne Lacy. This a free event where we will be delving deeper into vocal traditions – from Shape Note to Nasheed; from choirs to Naat’s; from folk singing to Qawali!

“There will be more fantastic food and a chance to turn this project into something that really represents and pulls together communities of Pendle.”