Tinderbox Spark A Fiery Performance
Founded in 2010, the Tinderbox Collective is a diverse collection of young people, musicians, artists, youth workers, community activists and volunteers offering a revolutionary approach to orchestras, youth work and creative learning for young people in Edinburgh. In 2018, the charity were granted funding by the University’s Community Grants scheme. We spoke to Jack Nissan, Director of Tinderbox Collective and Erin McGonigle, a member of the orchestra about the benefits of the University's support, their festival performances and what it means to be a part of such a dynamic and exciting group of talent.
Tinderbox work to break down barriers between people and communities, provide exciting opportunities to those who need them most and support young people to build their confidence, skills, self-esteem and professional experience. In spring 2018, Tinderbox were granted funding by the University’s Community Grants scheme to support these aims. The grant was given to Tinderbox with the particular purpose of supporting participants living in disadvantaged areas of North Edinburgh to help them better develop skills for creative musical growth.
Every Sunday throughout August, the company are performing in The Pianodrome from 17.00 – 18.00. Their 20 strong Tinderbox Orchestra features some of Scotland’s leading young musicians and are joined by a rotating cast of special guests in an amphitheatre made entirely from pianos. Last week they lent their talent to an event hosted by Principal and Vice Chancellor Peter Mathieson and Director of Festivals, Cultural and City Events Janet Archer for a special performance in the Playfair Library.
How has Tinderbox benefitted from the University's Community Grant since it was awarded last year?
Jack - The University’s Community Grant was a great support for our weekly youth music hub in Muihourse, North Edinburgh. Around 50 children and young people come every week – it’s open to people aged 10-18, from complete beginners to more experienced young musicians. We do a mix of singing and song-writing, rap, learning instruments, open-mic sessions and playing together as a band. It started around 2014 and we’re delighted that we have been able to keep it going. This kind of funding is so important in keeping youth clubs like this going so that they can offer reliable and positive places for young people to be.
Erin, how did you get involved with Tinderbox and how easy is it for others to do the same?
Erin - I was studying at university and got involved as an apprentice tutor in the Tinderbox Community Music Hub, helping to teach violin and run workshops. I then moved home after graduating and really wanted to still be part of a band, so I joined the Tinderbox Orchestra through their open rehearsals and “orchestra sessions” project at the Jazz Bar.
There are so many places for people to get involved in Tinderbox - it’s great and they’re really welcoming and friendly. There are loads of projects for people of different ages and levels of ability. Just get in touch with them. It is really inclusive, there’s no pressure or auditions, and you can turn up and join in no matter where you are - that’s really nice. I also like the fact that there are parts for different levels of ability and different ways for people to get involved.
How does it feel to work amongst the varied and diverse dynamic of Tinderbox, which brings together people of different ages, genres and disciplines?
E - It’s great to bounce off different people’s experience and styles of music. I’ve traditionally played in orchestras and string groups so playing in a band with singers, rappers and improvisers is amazing, it really makes you listen more and try new things. Also this performance has lots of movement and we’ve learned it all by heart so this makes you much more aware of what everyone else is doing. With all the rehearsals and playing every week, you make friends and really get to know people and their style of playing, and this all feeds into the performances too.
How did you find your experience of performing in the University’s Playfair Library last week? We image it compares quite dramatically to your venue for the Festival Fringe – The Pianodrome!
E - It was a completely different experience! The Pianodrome is a really unusual venue – an amphitheatre made entirely from old pianos, and people are so close to the performers that they feel almost part of the band! The Playfair Library is an amazingly beautiful venue, but it’s huge and such a long room to play in. It feels quite traditional too, so it was really nice to play more modern styles of music there with the band and do something different in it.
Tinderbox is performing at The Pianodrome every Sunday of the Festival – how would you describe the musical direction of this performance?
J & E - Explosive, immersive, exciting and eclectic! The show is a far cry from a traditional orchestra performance. The music moves between hip hop and songwriting, to folk, jazz and alternative rock. It’s a 20-piece band with rappers and singers so it’s a huge sound in a really unique and intimate venue. Each week there’s a different guest act who joins us too and we do a full orchestral collaboration for a couple of their songs. There’s a lot of movement in the performance too and we are right in amongst the audience. You have to come and experience it really - it’s like nothing else you’ve seen before!
Following your Festival Fringe performances, what projects are up next for Tinderbox?
J - In September we’ll be starting all of our core projects again, including our Music Hub in North Edinburgh, our open rehearsals with the Tinderbox Orchestra at the Jazz Bar in the town centre, and the Tinderbox Lab where people can learn about and experiment with ‘digital arts’ and electronics. We are also very excited to be recording an EP with Scottish Album of the Year Award winner Kathryn Joseph, and will be collaborating with other great young musicians, youth groups, local bands and artists across Scotland.
Thank you very much to Jack and Erin for talking to us and to all the musicians involved in the Tinderbox performance at the Playfair Library. If you would like to book tickets for Tinderbox's remaining festival performances on the 18th and 25th, you can do so on the Ed Fringe website - tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tinderbox.
If you would like to find out more about the Tinderbox Collective, you can visit their website - https://tinderboxcollective.org/about/.