Archive | Younger Life

Gig-ready in a Day with Dennis Rollins

Dennis Rollins with his student band from Leeds + Harrogate schools

Jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins put the big into big band when 50 young musicians recently took to the stage with him after just one day of making music together.

The one-off ensemble from five local schools spent the day with Dennis at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), rehearsing a programme of music ranging from jazz to Motown, Latin, blues and even Adele. The students, aged 11-18, came from GSAL, Allerton Grange School, Abbey Grange C of E Academy, Harrogate Grammar School and Garforth Academy. Despite the limited time they had to get to know each another, the band soon gelled and they gave an assured and energetic performance in the evening.

Dennis Rollins is an acclaimed performer, composer and educator, who developed his own musical talents with the Doncaster Youth Jazz Association. He encouraged the student band as an ensemble, working with them on the musical arrangements, improvised solos and sight-reading skills.

“There’s something special about standing in front of a group of young musicians and seeing the massive potential for them to express themselves”, said Dennis. “It’s such a big moment when you see that spark and they realise they can do it and give to the audience. It’s been fabulous to witness it and see the joy in their faces. They’ve done the work, I’ve just encouraged them.”

Saxophonist Madi Jones is a Year 12 student at Harrogate Grammar School. “Before we went on, Dennis told us we needed to work together and have fun, show you love the music”, said Madi. “He put us at ease, treated us as proper musicians and it felt really professional.”

Rachel Gillespie, teacher of music at Allerton Grange, said: “It’s given our students a good experience of musicianship and a sense of belonging to something big. A couple of hours in, they were already asking if we could start a jazz band at school!”

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Young Musicians Take to the Stage with Trombonist Dennis Rollins

Dennis Rollins      Photo courtesy of Darren Cowley

Dennis Rollins Photo courtesy of Darren Cowley

Young musicians from schools around Harrogate and Leeds will take to the stage alongside acclaimed jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins on Friday 24th March, 7pm at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL).

Dennis Rollins is well known on the British and international jazz scene and will bring his unique style to GSAL for a lively day of music making, culminating with an evening performance.

Around fifty pupils aged 11-18 from GSAL, Harrogate Grammar School, Allerton Grange School, Abbey Grange C of E Academy, Crawshaw Academy and Garforth Academy have been invited to form an ensemble for the day. Comprising saxophones, brass and rhythm sections, they will be led by Dennis in creating a programme to showcase at the concert, alongside numbers performed by Dennis himself.

Dennis grew up in Bentley, Doncaster, and developed his musical talents with the Doncaster Youth Jazz Association. He is celebrated for his versatile and powerful approach to trombone playing and high-energy jazz-funk repertoire as well as his own take on more traditional tunes.

He has earned numerous accolades, including Trombonist of the Year at the inaugural Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Awards; British Jazz Award for Best Trombonist and the prestigious cross-Parliamentary Jazz Educator Award. He has performed with some of the world’s top jazz and pop acts, including Quincy Jones, the Jazz Warriors, Courtney Pine, Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies, Blur and Maceo Parker. He is also a formidable bandleader of jazz-funk outfit Badbone & Co and Velocity Trio.

The concert is open to all and tickets cost £7/£5 – available online at or on the door.


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New Gallery, New Name & a Spacecraft

The Soyuz TMA-19M  spacecraft with museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch & Bradford MPs Naz Shah & Philip Davies

The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft with museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch & Bradford MPs Naz Shah & Philip Davies

A state-of-art £1.8m interactive gallery, a new name, and the arrival of astronaut Tim Peake’s spacecraft are among a series of major launches at the National Media Museum, Bradford, this year.

Set to become the ‘National Science and Media Museum’, to reflect its focus on the science behind the magic of photography, film and television, the museum unveils its new gallery ‘Wonderlab’ with an opening family weekend on 25th/26th March.

Featuring UK-firsts and breathtaking live shows, Wonderlab explores the science of light, sound and images through state-of-the-art exhibits – including some that can’t be seen permanently anywhere else in the world. Visitors will be able to see their body split from their head as they walk, hear their voices echo through a 15m-long tube, experience an anti-gravity mirror and a musical laser tunnel, and watch one of the world’s first 3D-printed Zoetrope installations.

The museum has also confirmed that it will host the world-famous Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that carried Major Tim Peake to the International Space Station (ISS) and back to earth. You will be able to see the spacecraft in September, when it travels outside London for the first time since it was acquired by the Science Museum Group in 2016.


Artist Akinori Goto installing his 3D zoetrope

Artist Akinori Goto installing his 3D zoetrope

“These announcements are not only incredibly exciting, but a significant statement of intent – that we are aiming to be one of the leading museums in the UK and worldwide”, said Jo QuintonTulloch, Museum Director. “The museum has a bright future and we are confident that people will be wowed by Wonderlab and its state-of-the-art exhibits, along with many other events.

“We want to draw in new visitors, encourage existing ones to come more often, and open a whole new chapter for the museum. Our collections across the technology and culture of photography, film and TV are unrivalled, and Wonderlab explores the science behind what makes these things magical in a very hands-on way.”

Wonderlab presents more than 20 mind-blowing, permanent exhibits including:

  • UK’s first permanent ‘Time Twister’ screen, which separates head from body
  • A waterfall that visitors appear to make hover in mid-air with their hands
  • The world’s first permanent 3D-printed zoetrope by Japanese artist, Akinori Goto
  • A 6ft sphere with spectacular animations of the sun and earth
  • Self-portrait photos timed to the exact moment a water drop splashes
  • A musical laser tunnel designed by Bradford-based artists Steve Manthorp and Shanaz Gulzar

Changing our name to the National Science and Media Museum makes it clear what people can expect when they visit us and the plans we’re revealing fulfill that promise”, said Jo Quinton-Tulloch. “It is the start of our long term strategy to look at our core subjects differently and inspire the filmmakers, photographers, scientists and engineers of the future. Ultimately, our aim is to take our place among the top international museums and build on our status as a key part of British, Yorkshire and Bradford tourism.

Owl Project installing sound exhibit

Owl Project installing sound exhibit

“The arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft is a huge coup for us – the first time it can be seen in the UK outside of London. It was at the centre of one of the biggest broadcast events of 2016 and will be yet another reason for people to visit the museum when it goes on display later in the year.”

The new Wonderlab will also feature a series of immersive shows in the new 70-capacity theatre. Visitors will be part of spectacular experiments – from creating art together by drawing the universe with light and movement, to recreating the sound of a thunderstorm. Other interactive experiences include shooting smoke rings from giant air cannons using sound vibrations, the chance to explore an Egyptian pyramid with endoscope cameras, and exploding balloons with lasers.


Bradford artists Steve Manthorp & Shanaz Gulza

Bradford artists Steve Manthorp & Shanaz Gulza

Entry to the new gallery and entire museum is free. For more information see


Link to Wonderlab TV and cinema advert:




Soyuz spacecraft at the Science Museum


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AT-iD Project Gives Yorkshire Teens a Voice

Voices from AT-iD (movie shot)

The Adopted Teens Identity (AT-iD) project recently screened its independent film ‘Voices’ at Hyde Park Picture House.

The featurette was produced to raise awareness about the challenges and misconceptions around adoption for older children. It highlights the impact of adoption and its effect on building relationships with families, friends and peers.

The event featured a talk from Mark Owers, Professional Adviser to the Adoption Leadership board, and a Q&A session with the teenagers and group leaders from the film.

“The feedback we have had following the showcase has been quite astounding”, said Tanya Killick, AT-iD project lead from PAC-UK. “Especially regarding the bravery of the teens getting up on stage and answering questions from the audience after the film was screened. We are all extremely proud of those involved and thank everyone for their support on the day.”

“Adopted children represent a minority in society and across the education system, which can leave them feeling misunderstood and isolated among their peers and the adults they interact with”, said Peter Sandiford, CEO of PAC-UK. “The messages in this short film clearly illustrate the complexities of adoption and should be compulsory viewing for all professionals adopted young people might come into contact with. I am proud of the hard work and personal commitment that went into the film – both in front of and behind the camera – and delighted that PAC-UK could play a part in the project.”

AT-iD, a project set up by Yorkshire & Humber Adoption Consortium and delivered by PAC-UK– It was created to provide adopted teens aged between 11 and 18 with a community that offers information and an insight into the experiences of adopted teenagers. The project aims to give a voice to adopted teenagers by providing them with a safe and secure way to discuss problems and issues with their peers or project workers.

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Babe, The Sheep Pig Visits Temple Newsam


Babe, The Sheep Pig had his first taste of Yorkshire farm-life in preparation for a visit to West Yorkshire Playhouse.


Visiting Temple Newsham’s Home Farm, the plucky piglet with a talent for herding sheep put his skills into practice, rounding up the farm’s rare-breed flock and putting them safely away in their pens.


The loveable Babe then went on to rub noses with one of Home Farm’s Middle White piglets, getting well acquainted with his real-life counterparts in preparation for opening night.


Adapted from Dick King Smith’s 1983 novel which inspired the 1995 Oscar-winning film, Babe, the little pig with big dreams, features amazing puppets designed by Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, with puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes (Associate Director in Puppetry & Movement, War Horse). Babe’s heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery is the perfect half-term treat.


Wed 15 – Sat 18 Feb

Quarry Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Suitable for all ages.

Box office 0113 213 7700   Book online  

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Magic, Music and Movement With Opera North


Opera North Little Singers. Photo credit Tom Arber

Singing, storytelling and sharing music are on the cards for Leeds’ youngest residents over the coming weeks as Opera North announces a series of family friendly performances and workshops.

Fairy tales take centre stage on Saturday 21st January, 10.30am and 11.45am, at Howard Assembly Room (£5/£3) and Leeds Central Library on 11th February, 10.30am, 11.45am and 1.30pm, (£4/£3) as Opera North’s magical indoor tent returns for a series of enchanting Happily Ever After performances. Storyteller, Ursula Holden-Gill, accompanied by cellist Polly Virr, will take audiences on a spellbinding journey through an assortment of traditional folk stories, with some surprising twists and turns along the way.

On Monday 6th  February at 11.00am, the Orchestra of Opera North will entertain with an interactive Little Listeners concert in the Howard Assembly Room. This is an opportunity for pre-schoolers, parents and carers to enjoy some classical music while finding out more about the different musical instruments in an orchestra. The children attending will be encouraged to move around to the music and join in with the songs.


Gold, Gods and Giants. Photo credit Amy Charles

Little Singers is held every Monday during term-time for children from 0-4 years. These fun-filled workshops are run by professional vocal delivery artists with the aim of encouraging adults and young children to explore music and movement together. Additional weekly sessions are going to be held at Colton Primary School Children’s Centre in East Leeds and CAST in Doncaster, with more planned at The Deep in Hull in the Easter holidays.

“We’re passionate about introducing children to high quality music and live performance at an early age but also recognise the importance of making it an enjoyable experience for everyone who comes along”, said Jacqui Cameron, Opera North Education Director. “This year, we’re inviting families to join us in a variety of settings to experience the pleasure of making music, dancing, singing and telling stories. All of our programmes are designed to help families find new ways to play, learn, understand and express themselves, while having fun together.”

To book, call 0844 848 2727 or visit  



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A Showcase of Young Musical Talent at The Venue


Caption: Jane Barrow with students Martha, Christa, & Simeon Shackleton


Music teacher Jane Barrow is organising a concert on Saturday 28th January, 2pm at The Venue, Leeds College of Music, to showcase the talent of around 30 of her past and present students.

Ranging from those relatively new to playing the piano, through to those post Grade 8, and some who are now perusing music as a career, it should be an entertaining afternoon with many different genres of music, including Naomi Adams (16) who will play and sing her own composition. There will also be vocals, guitar and an acoustic set from other students.

Jane has been a private piano tutor for over 25 years. As a child she performed widely and won the under 16 piano section on the programme Junior Showtime for three consecutive years. In recent years, she noticed a lack of opportunity for young pianists to experience the thrill of a live performance and to develop their confidence and skill, so she is thrilled to be arranging this concert at such a great venue with its two beautiful Steinway pianos.

Tickets (£8/£5) are available from Leeds College of Music Box Office on 0113 222 3434 or online.




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Brighten your Winter with a Bit of Magic for the Whole Family



Imagine a world where Penn and Teller are Victorian Brits and you are on your way to conjuring the magical duo of Morgan & West.  Following smash hit Edinburgh seasons in 2015 and 2016 and sell-out runs on London’s Southbank and around the country, Morgan & West bring their Empire inspired, thoroughly entertaining illusions to Leeds. Morgan & West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show – For Kids (and Childish Grownups) arrives at Carriageworks Theatre on Sat 28 January 2017.

Witness a mountain of mysterious magic, a hatful of hyper-reality, and of course a truck full of tricks and tea (Mr Morgan is very sad to say there are no actual mountains or trucks on stage during the show, Mr West simply would not have them.) Mixing brain-busting illusion and good old fashioned tomfoolery, Morgan & West present a show for all the family, where magic and silliness abound!

Morgan & West have been performing their unique magic shows across the UK and around the world, including sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Fringe World in Perth, Adelaide Fringe where they were nominated for Best Family Show, and Buxton Fringe where they were awarded Best Comedy Show.

Morgan & West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show – For Kids (and Childish Grownups)

Saturday 28 January, 2pm

Tickets: £8.50 (£9.50 adults)

Family Ticket: £34

Age 5+

Tickets for all Carriageworks Theatre productions can be booked on 0113 376 0318, online through the website at or in person at the City Centre Box Office, Leeds Town Hall

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New Accessibility Drive for Yeadon’s BIG Pantomime


“Something BIG is coming to Yeadon Town Hall” – that’s the tag line for this year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk. But as well as the dastardly giant Blunderbore there’s another big addition to this year’s production; a performance specially modified to assist people with learning difficulties and people living with Dementia, and also the provision of sign language.

”Yeadon Charities Association have been staging pantomimes for 78 years”, said Peter Long, the show’s writer/co-director and president of the charity behind the pantomime. “The panto funds our work helping people in the community including the Memory Lane dementia cafe. Making the wonderful tradition of pantomime more accessible just seems like the right thing for us to do, and we think we’re the first amateur pantomime in the area to try this”.

Relaxed performances are becoming more popular in professional theatres and involve alterations being made to the way the show is staged in an attempt to make the theatre experience easier for people with learning difficulties and those suffering from dementia. House lights are kept partially illuminated and loud sound effects and music are quietened down. The pantomime team are also producing a Story Book which will explain the story, introduce the characters and explain any surprises in the show before they happen. It will also help users to understand some of the more confusing quirks of pantomime – such as the leading boy being a girl and the dame being a man! This book will be available beforehand to allow parents or carers to go through it before attending the theatre. Finally there will  be a British Sign Language interpreter signing the show at this performance.

Chris Eddison, the pantomime’s sound designer, was inspired to organise the scheme having seen professional theatres staging relaxed performances. “Professional theatre is opening up far more for people with disabilities”, he said. “Gone are the days of just having a wheelchair ramp or a lift and calling yourselves accessible. There are lots of new and exciting ways for many more people to enjoy the magic of theatre. We’ve got big ambitions for the future to stage productions that are even more accessible, but this seemed like a great place to start. We hope that our work will encourage more local theatre companies to make their performances accessible too”.

A visit to see a pantomime during the festive season is a great family treat and the Yeadon Pantomime team hope these new additions will allow many more people, young and old, to enjoy Yeadon’s modern, funny and award winning pantomime together.

Tickets for Jack and the Beanstalkcan be booked at The show runs from the 20th to the 28th January at Yeadon Town Hall. The Wednesday 25thJanuary performance will be relaxed and signed. It is suggested that people wishing to make use of the BSL interpretation sit to the right hand side of the stalls (view of the signer from the balcony may be restricted).

Twitter; @yeadonpanto #yeadonpanto

Facebook; @yeadoncharitiesassociation


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The Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto Rocks The City Varieties



The famous Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is rocking City Varieties Music Hall once again, and this year’s show, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ seems to have even more energy than previous years!

And they didn’t waste any time – it was only minutes before everyone was shouting at the stage. Justin Brett as Dame Taffeta Trott was suitably outrageous; Bethan-Wyn Davies made a lovely Princess Susie (cue ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’!); and Hannah Price as the bad witch was superbly nasty. Lisa Goodhand as Fairy Fanciful, who was the main narrator too, never missed a beat. Dyfrig Morris as King Camelot was hilarious and he and his sidekick Harold the Herald (Kenny Davies, who is basically addicted to Rock’n’Roll panto and appears nearly every year), produced some great slapstick moments.


Alex Wingfield was the handsome prince (Simon Steadfast) and Dan Bottomley Morgana’s hapless son and Simon’s competition – his rendition of ‘Sex Bomb’ was something else! Katia Sartini was excellent as a scatty sprite trying to win her fairy wings; and Scott Haining’s opening number ‘Celebration’ got the show off to a great start.


What always surprises me is how supremely talented the cast is – all play at least one instrument and there were some lovely voices. The show was packed with great music, featuring songs from the 50s through to the present. The show was rounded off with the traditional ‘Boulder Fight’, where giant balls (boulders!) are bouncing all over the audience.


“Our Rock’n’Roll Pantos have been extremely popular since they were first introduced in 2011”, says Ian Sime, General Manager at City Varieties. “They have grown year on year and have now become a Christmas tradition for families in Leeds and beyond.”

A great time was had by all! The show continues until 8th January. Tickets (£14 – £25) are available from 0113 243 0808 or online at


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