An Ape's Progress


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MLF and Manchester Jazz Festival unite for a major new commission to celebrate their respective tenth and twentieth anniversaries. In a playful reimagining of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, three critically acclaimed artists create a unique multimedia performance combining words, music and visual art to tell the story of an immigrant’s journey to Manchester.

Irish poet Matthew Sweeney is a consummate storyteller famed for his strong sense of noirish filmic narrative; poems for this piece are inspired by time spent in Manchester observing its people and places.

Saxophonist and composer Iain Ballamy is an internationally recognised musician producing eclectic, original work. Dave McKean is a comic artist, illustrator, and filmmaker who has worked with Richard Dawkins, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper and Tori Amos.

The music will be performed by an international ensemble including Norwegian virtuoso Stian Carstensen, pure-toned Swedish vocalist Emilia Mårtensson and young British Mercury contender Kit Downes.


Iain Ballamy

Iain Ballamy appearing at this event

Award-winning British saxophonist and composer with a worldwide reputation and whose musical interests embrace both jazz and music from cultures around the globe. Renowned in Europe as the "Fantastic Englishman", Ballamy established himself playing alongside notables including Hermeto Pascoal, the late Gil Evans, George Coleman, Dewey Redman, Mike Gibbs and the New York Composers Orchestra. His distinctive saxophone voice can be heard in his improvisations for the BBC Radio 4 play 'Signal to Noise' by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, the movie 'Legend' and a documentary 'Joseph Losey - the Man with Four Names'. Ballamy also scored the award winning film 'Mirrormask' directed by Dave McKean for the Jim Henson company.

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Matthew Sweeney

'Sweeney's poems are like shards of glass. As you look closely, they cut.' - Helen Dunmore, The Observer.

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Also Appearing

Dave McKean, The Pepper Street Orchestra

The Whitworth Art Gallery

  • The University Of Manchester
  • Oxford Road
  • Manchester
  • M13 9PL