Darren Ferguson founder of Beyond Skin introduces the video for the song “Far Away”, produced by Glengormley High School students and students from C and S Music School in Japan.

The song, and video of “Far Away” is one of the end products of the work Darren Ferguson, the founder of Belfast based peacebuilding arts organisation Beyond Skin, undertook through receiving an award, the Anne O Donoghue Award, to develop his management skills in 2019.

“I have never been very good in formal circles, I’m not really one for putting on a suit and mixing in with those kind of situations. The board of Beyond Skin suggested that I needed to develop those skills and we had a connection with someone who worked in Japan in an organisation called Min On Music which is one of the largest music organisations in Japan.

From what I had seen, the culture In Japan was much more formal, much more structured and worked very closely with specific protocols, certainly very different than the way I would work and the situation I would normally be part of, I bought a suit, travelled to Japan and interacted with the people who ran the music organisation.

When I returned I decided I also wanted to do something which was more community focused, and by a lucky accident, Glengormley High School contacted me and said they were looking to get involved in a music project. We connected them with C and S Music School in Japan, which works with children who have found it difficult in mainstream schooling. C and S Music deals with the question of bullying in schools.

There were some difficulties to overcome, C and S Music School, is a music school with a pretty impressive pedigree; it has produced some very famous musicians and pop stars in Japan. They do music full time whereas at Glengormley High School, music is an additional element to what the students normally do so there isn’t much in the way of funding for projects outside of the curriculum..

In the end, Glengormley High School Students wrote the lyrics, worked with C and S on the melody and the structure, and C and S produced the song and the video. It was a collaborative process and the end result is wonderful.”

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