International star of the piano, Sasha Grynyuk

Absolute Classics Raise Mental Health Awareness

An Annan-based performing arts promoter is using the medium of classical music to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people.

Absolute Classics, a charity that works across Dumfries and Galloway to bring exciting and engaging concerts and music-making activities into the region’s remote communities, has extended its work to deliver a pilot workshop and concert as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Central Events Programme.

Building on Absolute Classics’ popular education and outreach programme, which delivers one-to-one masterclasses with world-class classical musicians for young people, the new venture was developed out of the feedback from the young participants of previous projects and the Fringe Society’s panel of Young People were very keen to work with them as a partner in this year’s programme.

The workshop is called ‘Creating Stories Through Soundscapes’ and will take place on Tuesday 21 August at Fringe Central. Young trainees will be mentored by a team of creative professionals, including composer Luci Holland, and the project will culminate in a concert in November with the Tinderbox Orchestra at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts.

Absolute Classics education co-ordinator, Narelle Freeman, said:

“Everybody understands sounds way before language and they are more direct, uncomplicated and honest than words. This workshop will take participants through simple sound manipulation techniques to explore ideas, dreams, stories or other realities, which they can communicate directly through their own soundscapes.”

Absolute Classics’ education and outreach projects focus on harnessing the importance of music in young people’s lives, to inspire engagement with building their own skills, aspirations, potential and commitment to personal achievement.

Working in the areas between secondary and tertiary education, the project supports greater understanding and knowledge, improved technique training, active engagement within wider groups and professional networks, and developing self-expression and communication. It is hoped to extend the project to develop a series of workshops for the region which focus on mental health issues in young people.

Narelle explained:

“Music is a powerful and personally meaningful form of connection, particularly for young people, and we are collaborating with music therapists and mental health professionals to ensure we can learn from this pilot so that we can develop workshops that we plan to deliver throughout Dumfries and Galloway from September 2018.”

The charity is seeking to raise funds for the workshops through online crowd-funding channel Just Giving.

Absolute Classics director, Alex McQuiston, said:

“We have ambitions to deliver the benefits of our education and outreach programme for many more young people living in remote communities throughout Dumfries and Galloway, regardless of the equipment available locally. But to achieve this, we need mobile technology.

“If you are able to support us, even in the smallest way, it will make an enormous difference in how many remote young people we can reach. You can support our education and outreach activities directly through Just Giving via the button on our website and Facebook pages, or by text – Text DGYP77 £5 to 70070”

Anyone who wishes to take part in Absolute Classics’ young people’s activities are asked to visit the charity’s education page at, Facebook page @absoluteclassicsconcerts.

Redesigning Annan High Street

Redesigning Annan High Street

If you had a magic wand to make Annan High Street better, what would you do?

That’s what Dumfries and Galloway Council will be asking folk in Annan over the next couple of months.  The aim is to develop a plan of action to refresh the High Street and make it better for businesses and the community.
A team of designers and planners has been busy working behind the scenes for the last few weeks, speaking to businesses along the High Street and pupils in local schools to find out what they want.  Needless to say, parking comes up as a big issue for many businesses – as in every town.

But lots of other ideas have come up frequently from young people and businesses alike, including:

  • More greenery and colour.
  • More events and festivals, especially in the winter.
  • Owners should fix empty derelict buildings on the High Street.
  • Better parking enforcement and signs to parking off the High Street.
  • More space for pedestrians and especially better access for disabled people.

See the initial ideas

On Saturday 14th April, the design team will be in the Market Hall from 10am to 2:30pm to present some initial ideas based on what they’ve heard so far.  Nothing will be cast in stone! The idea is to stimulate ideas from the good citizens of Annan about how they think the High Street should be improved.

Then the design team will work up the suggestions in more detail before another event in June, to check that they’re going in the right direction.  Final costed proposals will then be drawn up so the Council can start looking for money and develop a plan of action.

Big projects like this take time, so don’t expect change to happen until at least next year.  But this is a golden opportunity to influence what our High Street should be like in the future.

Drop in to the Market Hall on Downie’s Wynd any time between 10am and 2:30pm on Saturday 14th April to find out more and influence the future.  Members of the Community Council will be there too to hear any thoughts you have for the wider town.

See you there for a cuppa and a chat!