News: Unsung Heroes | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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During lockdown there was nothing like a bit of augmented reality to make the daily exercise walk, you’d been on repeatedly, seem that little bit more exciting. Whether it was catching Pokemon, chasing dinosaurs or slaying zombies, the slight break from the mundane reality we found ourselves in was quite nice. Music fans who find themselves missing the frequency of live performances they were accustomed to in pre-pandemic times, will be pleased to know that this same technology will be used to bring virtual ‘mini-gigs’ into our lives to be enjoyed any time or place.

Queen’s Hall Arts have commissioned international multimedia artists Davy & Kristin McGuire and North East musician Bridie Jackson to create Unsung Heroes, a brand new augmented reality gig co-created with the local community. The people of Hexham have nominated their Unsung Heroes (i.e. the everyday people who have inspired them) and now Bridie is looking for North East musicians to perform the songs that she has written about them.

Bridie explains, “For me, writing songs is all about capturing stories that would otherwise be lost so it’s a real joy to write about these Unsung Heroes who have made a difference in their local community, and until now, not received the recognition they deserve. We’ve had some really heartwarming nominations and now we’re looking for local people with a passion for music to get involved. While it’s not a professional gig and you don’t need to be able to read music, it would be great if you had some live performance and studio experience because they’ll be recording the songs I’ve written and then performing them on camera.”

If you are a musician and would like to be involved then send a short video of yourself performing, plus a paragraph explaining why they want to get involved to [email protected] by Friday 6 November. Audition videos can also be submitted on social media using #UnsungHeroesHexham and tagging @QueensHall. Musicians of all ages from all genres are welcome, and individuals, duos or ensembles of up to four people can apply as long as they’re from the same household or bubble.

Successful applicants will record the songs and then be filmed performing in front of a green screen for an augmented reality app being developed by the McGuires. Audiences will be able to experience a ‘mini gig’ wherever they are simply by pointing their camera phone at a postcard which will make the musicians pop up to perform the songs on a ‘postcard stage’.

As well as a smartphone app which will allow people to access the mini gigs from wherever they are, there will also be an interactive exhibition at the Queen’s Hall in Hexham and Unsung Heroes will tour in 2021. 

The McGuires add, ”In this time of isolation where people can’t go to gigs, we thought it would be a good idea to transport the gigs to the people. Tabletop Rock will be an augmented reality app where musicians will be shrunk down to the size of a coffee cup and perform to people directly from their kitchen table. We are really excited to be working with Bridie and Queen’s Hall Arts on this first of a kind project.

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