us and our members
|Blog for YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Leeds Town Hall Lord Mayor’s Christmas Concert.
Our concert this year was dedicated to the memory of Jan Holdstock.
The concert was held as usual on the first Wednesday of December at Leeds Town Hall;
the Lord Mayor this year was Cllr Jane Dowson, who looked resplendent
in the full regalia of red cloak, chain of office and three corned hat.
In the run-up to the concert we held our usual art competition, with
themes including listening to Troika and Junkanoo, researching the
Bahamian Festival of Junkanoo, and “Peering”, a picture by Karla
Gerard. This was the second year running that we included music and and
a famous piece of art as our stimuli, and, on the whole, the quality of
the entries was raised to such an extent we had to include some Highly
Commended certificates. The art competition was judged by artists and
art teachers, Cath Byfield and Anna-Marie Milton.
Sixteen schools and centres sent in a total of 420 pictures. This year
we asked schools to fill in the entry forms electronically. Several
did, which was incredibly helpful, when it came to printing the picture
labels and the certificates. This year we displayed winning pictures in
the crush room, which did become a bit of a crush at the end!
also asked if schools and centres could provide their own display
boards. This meant less boards for us to find, and ready-made displays
for the schools afterwards. We got boards from Hillside, John Jamieson
and Milestone and this was also incredibly helpful, and meant that we
didn’t need to put any pictures on the Town Hall walls.
[True amusing story: We did find one other lovely big – and heavy -
display board. Over the phone I asked the caretaker if I could borrow
it from Meanwood Community Centre and his mate staggered to my van with
it. Back at my house I unscrewed the hinges between panels as it was so
heavy. I was just about to glue some cork tiles onto them when I found
a little hinged table thing. I stood back. The cats jumped off. It was
a bloomin’ polling booth! Better get it screwed back together quick. We
don’t know when it might next be needed! Things looking a bit uneasy
down in Westminster.]
The quality of the art contributions was particularly high from two
schools – Milestone [West Silc] and Meadows Park [Benton Park], so they
are getting a special mention in dispatches here.
We had a display of Junkanoo in the Town Hall Foyer featuring the masks
and shakers made by the children at John Jamieson School [East Silc],
we also put on a slideshow of all the prize-winners and Highly
Singing on the stage were four choirs: Off By Heart, Young Accord, One
Accord and the Wakefield Accords, led by Mavis West, Joanna Winster,
Clare Milton-Thompson, Sophie Thiruchelvum, Jackie Craig and Kate
Ghent. The choirs come from over fifteen schools and centres from
Yorkshire, mostly from Leeds and Wakefield, and they rehearse in Leeds
at West Park United Church, Meanwood Community Centre and St Chads
Community Centre and in Wakefield, at the Wakefield Music Service’s
Also on stage were The Yorkshire Evening Post Band, East Steel, Off the
Off the Cuff and the St Peter’s Clerks. Between all these choirs and
ensembles they included several of Jan Holdstock’s compositions in the
programme. Aljosha Skorja and Simon Lindley conducted the Yorkshire
Evening Post Band, and Joanna Winster accompanied the choirs when
needed on the piano; Bex Ainge led the steel band, and Simon Lindley
was our compere for the evening. It goes without saying that the
quality of the music and the singing was as high as ever. Which was the
whole point of YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic in the first place!
The nativity procession was beautifully provided by staff and children
from Hollybush – West Silc. They had a treasure trove of a dressing up
box and this included as the usual suspects. It was a good thing that I
had rehearsed with them the previous week, as unexpectedly I had to
lead the procession on the day.
amusing and true story: Two members of Off by Heart were unavoidably
late to the concert and needed the ramp to access the stage. They
arrived during one of the prize-givings where they received a good
handshake from the Lord Mayor, who took them to prize winners and so
did the photographer. Lol!]
Parking was more difficult than ever as Queen was playing at the Leeds
Arena. We limited the Town Hall parking to blue badge holders and
minibuses, and are grateful to all our volunteers who came on public
transport, and to Leeds Station for being so close to the Town Hall!
We look forward to seeing you all next year on the first Wednesday in December.
|A short history of the founding and funding of the YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Lord Mayor’s Leeds Town Hall Christmas Concert
This year we welcome the 34th YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Lord Mayors Town
Hall Christmas Concert. When YAMSENSpeciallyMusic itself was founded in
1987 by Irene, Mavis, Jan and Val it was Irene Peace who declared that
children with special/additional needs needed the absolute best for
their concerts, and the best was Leeds Town Hall.
Founding a charity is one thing but funding it is another. Irene set
about raising money for this event, seeing what was possible to get for
free, what was possible to get for a reduced rate. The
YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic members all had day jobs and were able to give
their own free time for free. And thus this tradition continues to this
Not content with a simple music concert, Irene instigated the fist
YAMSEN: SpeciallyMusic Art Competition. All entries were displayed in
the Leeds Town Hall backstage foyer, and winners chosen and publicly
awarded prizes; with some lucky winners having the pictures made into
Christmas cards the following year. And this tradition continues to
this day as well.
At first Irene attracted so much sponsorship that the concerts were
offered for free, with one sponsor, until only a few years ago,
offering foreign holidays as the top prize. Now alas, times have
changed. We still do get donations, and without them we could not put
on a concert in this prestigious venue, but we also now need to sell
the tickets, although we have kept them to a very modest £2.50.
We do occasionally get questions about the concerts charging for entry
but actually charging for tickets fulfills three functions: 1. People
are more likely to attend if they pay for a ticket and 2. People only
take the tickets that they need and pay for, and so we don’t have to
refuse tickets when in fact we still have seats left (which we did
occasionally do in the past). 3. It makes us less dependent on
The 2017 Lord Mayor’s Town Hall Christmas Concert is dedicated to Jan Holdstock
This concert consists of the event itself with its massed adult and
children’s choirs and also a massive art competition with its 400 plus
entries. This year’s themes for the art competition are to make
A picture of Winter at the Seaside, or
A piece inspired the picture below by Karla Gerard, or
Something inspired by listening to Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije or
Something Inspired by Junkanoo (the West Indian Christmas Festival and also song by Jan Holdstock).
Click here for more information about the art competition.
Jan was one of the founder members of YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic. She died
sadly, too soon, earlier this year, but she left behind a huge legacy.
Besides founding YSM (with Mavis, Irene and Val) she wrote a huge huge
number of songs that children up and down this country regularly sing
in school and community settings. She also taught so many of us how to
teach music to everyone in our class, whatever our musical knowledge,
and she inspired so many is us to believe in ourselves musically.
This year’s concert is dedicated to Jan, and if any of you reading this
were inspired by Jan please contact us with your stories. We would love
them on this website.
The concert itself is on December 6th at Leeds Town Hall, starting at 7; doors open at .6.30.”
SpeciallyMusic wins Heritage Lottery Fund Support
YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic are pleased to announce
that we have been awarded a grant of £35,800 from the Heritage
Lottery Fund to enable us to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the
completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal with over 200 pupils from four
Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres (SILCs) across the city of Leeds.
We launched this project with an interactive concert at Leeds Town Hall
on the 20th June - part of the Beyond Festival. YAMSEN worked
alongside Artforms, Northern Ballet and Leeds Museums and Galleries in
order to enable the children to explore ideas relating to the canal
through music, art and dance. This concert will be followed by visits
to local canal side locations: Armley Mills, Thwaites mills and canal
The principal of the South SILC:
“Music, dance, drama and art are often a key way for many of our young
people to communicate or express their thoughts feeling and emotions”.
This project aims to join these ideas together.
Pupils can log their experiences in Heritage Arts Award portfolios and
the YAMSEN team will create accessible resources based on the work.
This will be an exciting opportunity for artists and musicians, special
school staff and pupils to learn together about their own city and the
contribution the Leeds Liverpool Canal makes to its growth and
development, creating a lasting memory and resource for the future.
The principal of the East
SILC: “This sounds an amazing project and one which we are
looking forward to being involved in.”
Throughout this project we will be working with over 200 pupils who
have additional needs. Many of them pass the canal everyday and don’t
realise it’s there. We hope that this project will raise their
understanding and awareness of its presence and contribution to the
life of the City of Leeds.
trustee: “YAMSEN are thrilled to have received the support of the
Heritage Lottery Fund to develop this project with Leeds children who
have additional needs. We believe using music, dance and art will help
open these children’s eyes to their surroundings and the remarkable
heritage all around them."
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery
Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and
communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy.
From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural
environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our
diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more
than £5.3bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk.
For further information, images and interviews, please contact
Diane Paterson, Secretary of YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic. See our Contact page (click here), or find us at YAMSEN on Facebook and @YamsenMusic on twitter.