On Saturday 7th May 2022 the British Police Symphony Orchestra performed a special and bespoke concert at Coventry Cathedral featuring music from around the world and even a world premiere!
The world premiere of a new arrangement of The Specials’ iconic song Ghost Town has been performed by a police orchestra. Founder member of the band, Jerry Dammers, attended the performance. The concert, arranged by West Midlands Police was part of Coventry’s year as City of Culture and compèred by BBC’s Trish Adudu.
Amongst the highlights of the night was the performance of Suad Bushnaq’s The Borrowed Dress, with Martha-Ann Brookes on solo accordion. Hailed as ‘an incredible artist’ by Hans Zimmer, the piece touched many in the audience.
There is an Arabic proverb that says, ‘The borrowed dress doesn’t keep one warm, and if it does, it doesn’t last for long.’ This piece is based on a film score that I composed for a feature length documentary by the same name. The Borrowed Dress, directed by Leen Alfaisal, is a film that follows a Syrian family that has been scattered across Europe because of the war. One of the protagonists, a grandmother named Susu, insists on going back to the warmth of her house in Damascus despite the fact that all her children are now in diaspora. She uses the aforementioned proverb as her reasoning behind wanting to be home. This is not to be ungrateful to countries that are opening their doors for those in need of a safe haven, but rather a nostalgic feeling that no one can deny, no matter how happy they are living elsewhere. The piece is a long sigh, a longing for the familiar, and a plea for things to go back to the way they were. On a personal level, the piece transcends the issue of being away from home, and touches upon losing family members and loved ones; those who are essentially our ‘home’. It is a cry for someone I love who is slowly drifting away into the unknown, as I stand there, helpless, wondering what borrowed dress will keep me warm once they’re gone.
The concert’s theme of peace, hope and reconciliation was warmly received by all who attended. We’ve used this theme in the workshops to improve community cohesion by exploring with the children diversity, inclusion and belonging. The words that they wrote and the music they learnt were performed in a matinee performance that their families will be invited to.
Further photos of the event can be found here (external site)