The Story So Far
"When I came up with the name “Deep Roots Tall Trees” after a walk in Kings Wood, I had no idea how deep those roots might grow and how tall the tree might become. Since I began the work of writing the song cycle for Cultural Engineer and Producer Rosalind Stoddart several years ago I have made friends and found a new community myself, here in Corby. The people alongside me on the Deep Roots team, the musicians beside whom I play and sing and the Choir for and with whom I often now write, are integral members of my life. The vision Ros and I had together has blossomed into a huge spreading tree with much more than we could ever have imagined." Barb Jungr
In 2011, Independent Cultural Engineer Rosalind Stoddart was at a low point in her life and needed a new direction and challenge. She went to see internationally renowned singer and songwriter Barb Jungr perform her own work at The Core. Ros was hugely impressed and she asked to be introduced to Barb. They later met up in London for an amazing exchange of ideas and, remarkably, found a mutual energy and sense of purpose in shared artistic beliefs.
From that initial meeting, Ros commissioned Barb to come to Corby and lead a project. Barb came up with the idea of a cycle of songs about Corby for Corby.
Separately, in 2012, Barb was asked to write a song for a choir to sing to the Queen for her visit to Corby in her Jubilee year. It was set to the music by young people of Corby, created during a programme they had worked on with the Education Department of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Gareth Fuller, the Choir Director of that performance, so impressed Ros and Barb that they invited Gareth to direct a choir to sing the songs that Barb was writing and the team was formed. It became the start of a lasting working relationship.
Kate Dyer’s organisation, Corby Community Arts was another vital link in the chain, providing access and introductions to key players in the town. Kate introduced them to a group of local musicians, and the band, Head of Snakes, was formed (Mark Brennan, George Reilly, Nick Flynn, Ian Cameron and Paul Balmer). Barb started to work with them writing and arranging songs. Ros, Kate and Barb put out a call for people to come and form a new choir with Gareth as Choir Director, and Deep Roots Tall Trees began.
The name Deep Roots Tall Trees was inspired by a walk in Corby’s King’s Wood, taken by Barb Jungr while researching the town. Deep Roots Tall Trees symbolises the town’s history, and the power of community, generation after generation. Also the woodlands of Corby are very special to the town, some of them being in the heart of the town. Inspired by Barb’s enthusiasm and commitment, Ros commissioned a song cycle from Barb to celebrate the gutsiness and tenacity of the people of Corby. The choir’s repertoire is unique, having been written by Barb and Head of Snakes.
The first Deep Roots Tall Trees concert was so successful it won the Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Award. The second work, New Town Pioneers, premiered to a packed house in November 2013 at The Core. Then some of the choir members asked to have collaborative song writing sessions with Barb and this group became known as Ring of Fire. Several of these songs featured in the The Big Night Out, the ground breaking collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in August 2014. That concert at Corby Football Ground was commissioned by Made in Corby as their first signature event and was a sell-out.
Since then, Barb, Head of Snakes and the Deep Roots Tall Trees choir have performed many times. Head of Snakes was disbanded at the end of 2014, but two of the musicians remain with the project as key players in the musical and song composition and arranging team.
Here, is the Deep Roots Tall Trees’ story and 2014 concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are captured on BBC’s Inside Out show filmed by Matthew Lynch.
Once a small village, the construction of steelworks in the 1930s drew workers from all over Britain and Ireland to Corby. Corby steel was essential during World War Two and the town grew, and kept on growing, until, by 1950, the population reached 18,000 and it acquired ‘New Town’ status. But in the 1970s, British industry went into steep decline and demand for steel fell. When the last steelworks closed in 1979, job losses in the town were catastrophic and unemployment reached 30%. But the strength and determination of the people of Corby saw them through.
The 1990s saw new investment in the town, including a railway station with a direct link to London, and a new immigrant and commuting population. Corby started to renew. Deep Roots Tall Trees is part of that new growth.
Deep Roots Tall Trees has also performed at The Royal Festival Hall, as part of Sing Inspiration 2015. Through our Choir Director, arrangements of gospel and pop songs have been added to our repertoire.
In 2015 Barb wrote new songs reflecting the changes in Corby and, in song writing sessions with Ring of Fire, Mark Brennan and George Reilly with Barb composed music for and arranged their ideas – some of which were premiered at a big concert at The Core in October 2015.
The work, the talent and the growth continues. In the autumn of 2015 DRTT received its second commission from the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust to write four new songs based on music in their Montagu Music Collection, in celebration of the four family members commemorated in the Montagu Monuments at St Edmund’s Church in Warkton, and to perform and record these songs for release on CD and online. These songs will be performed on 5 May 2016.