New exhibition showcases Leeds' musical history and heritage from a Victorian glass harp to Mel B doll
Hundreds of years of musical history came together this week as a modern 21st century guitar joined the orchestra of classic instruments at Abbey House Museum.
The new Ibanez Jon Gomm signature guitar has become the latest addition to the Leeds museum’s Sounds of Our City exhibition, which celebrates more than 200 years of the city’s concerts, performances and musical memories.
It has been donated by Leeds-based guitarist, singer and songwriter Jon Gomm, and the contemporary instrument will soon be put on display alongside a collection of pieces
from the museum’s collection.
They include a newly-restored 1850s Dearlove double bass, made in Leeds and a skeleton or mute violin from around 1880, which was used by musicians to practice more
Also on display alongside the new guitar will be a glass harp, made in 1820 by Leeds craftsman Joshua Muff and played by running a chalked or moistened finger round a series
of glasses of different shapes and sizes.
Kitty Ross, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of social history, said: “The sheer scope and variety of musical instruments we have in the collection shows how much our shared
love of music has been a powerful catalyst for innovation and creativity as musicians strove to find new ways to express themselves.
“We’re extremely grateful to Jon Gomm for this kind donation and for this beautiful new guitar to become one of the newest chapters in the long and fascinating story of music in
Jon said: “It’s not every day a local musician gets a signature model guitar produced by a big company like Ibanez. I've spent the last three years developing this guitar with them, so I
still have the prototype and I've been wondering what to do with it, so when the museum asked for a guitar, the stars aligned.
“It's just an enormous honour to be part of the exhibition. My career started on the Leeds music scene in the early 2000s, and I'm very proud of being a part of that period and having
embedded myself in the culture of this city. To mark that for posterity in this way, it feels like it mattered a little bit.”
As well as instruments, Sounds of Our City also explores the different ways we encounter music at home and school memorabilia from some of the different venues associated with
music in the city.
A song book, featuring a song entitled This is our Opening Day, which was written and performed for the opening of Roundhay Park in 1872 is on display along with a doll of Leeds-
born Spice Girl Mel B, a vintage-style juke box and incredible automated machine featuring children’s TV icons Sooty, Sweep and Soo.
Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for culture, economy and education, said: “Music plays such a central and important role in our lives and Leeds in
particular is a city which has a unique, rich and enthralling musical heritage.
“It’s inspiring to see that heritage celebrated at the museum and for the musicians of today to be so keen to play a part in further enriching the special legacy of music in Leeds.”
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