Cambridge neuroscientists will be among the members of an innovative educational charity joining a Pink Floyd tribute band to celebrate the transforming power of music.
At Squeaky Gate it doesn’t matter who you are - we’re all there to make music and have fun."
Two Cambridge neuroscientists will be taking to the stage as part of a show celebrating the music of Pink Floyd, the band synonymous with the psychedelic rock of the 1960s and 1970s.
The events, which will feature some of the band’s best-loved numbers including Wish You Were Here and Another Brick in the Wall, will help raise money for Squeaky Gate, a highly-creative educational charity that works with people experiencing mental health problems.
Scientists Hannah Critchlow and Helene Gautier will be part of a group of performers from Squeaky Gate joining tribute band Brit Floyd to play at Birmingham NIA tomorrow (10 May) and Cambridge Corn Exchange on 2 June. The two events follow a performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Monday.
Critchlow is part of the award-winning Naked Scientists, a team based at the University of Cambridge where they produce science radio programmes and podcasts that are broadcast internationally, including UK-wide on the BBC. With an award from the Wellcome Trust Society, and in partnership with the British Neuroscience Association, the group is developing “Naked Neuroscience”, a travelling science stage show and podcast that will target schools and the general public, taking audiences on a journey through the brain.
Gautier is a research associate in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, the MRC Centre for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, and the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair. Her research is focused on transmitter signalling to oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (a type of brain stem cell) in regenerative processes. Oligodendrocytes produce the insulating layers (myelin) that protect the nerve fibres and allow them to conduct fast electrical signals, essential for normal brain function.
The two scientists regularly take part in creative sessions at Squeaky Gate’s newly-refurbished studios in Cambridge where the charity empowers people with mental health problems to produce innovative work, often in collaboration with professional musicians.
Founded by trombonist Simon Gunton in 2009, Squeaky Gate has strong informal links with the University of Cambridge and has encouraged an open exchange of experiences and information between those who are researching the causes of mental illness and those who experience them. The charity’s ground-breaking show Inside an Unquiet Mind played to packed audiences at Cambridge Science Festival in 2011, with feedback suggesting that the performance shattered many myths.
At the three Brit Floyd shows, Critchlow will be singing and dancing, and Gautier will be playing the double bass and singing. Critchlow said: "At Squeaky Gate, we work as a team to devise and perform musical and dance pieces. It’s a collaborative way of working with scientists, mental health professionals and the charity’s students leaning from each other." Dr Gautier added: "At Squeaky Gate it doesn’t matter who you are - we’re all there to make music and have fun."
Pink Floyd has many connections with Cambridge. Three of the band members - David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Syd Barrett – were brought up in the city. Waters’ dream-like lyrics for Grantchester Meadows famously capture the feel of the river and surrounding fields in the blowsy heat of high summer.
Barrett, who went to Cambridge College of Arts and Technology before going on to art school in London, was a brilliantly creative musician who was the driving force behind the band as it emerged into fame. He was a magnetic character whose mental state unravelled as the result of drugs. Pink Floyd’s number Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Now there’s a look in your eyes/ like black holes in the sky) was addressed to him - and is the inspiration behind Squeaky Gate’s Shine On fund-raising campaign which will be launched at the Brit Floyd shows.
Barrett’s sister, Rosemary Breen, became his main carer in the years leading up to his death in 2006 - and is a trustee of Squeaky Gate. In a recent BBC Radio 4 profile, she spoke warmly of the brother she loved "perhaps too much" and praised his originality, eccentricity and stubborn refusal to live a conventional life – "we need people like him".
Members of Squeaky Gate will be performing alongside Brit Floyd at Birmingham NIA on 10 May and Cambridge Corn Exchange on 2 June. For tickets visit www.britfloyd.com. For information about Squeaky Gate go to www.squeakygate.org.uk