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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke




At this year’s Manchester International Festival Juan Mata, the former Manchester United midfielder, has teamed up with stars of the creative arts, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Tino Sehgal, for a new work that is inspired by the similarities between sport and performance art.

Spanish footballer Juan Mata has throughout his career been described by the football media as an ‘artist’, describing how his skill, imagination, intelligence, and creativity have lit up grounds all over the world and seen him gathering honours including a World Cup winner’s medal. It is now literally true, off the pitch at least, as Juan Mata prepares to take his place alongside the likes of Yayoi Kusama’s hallucinatory immersive environments and Ryan Gander’s conceptual interventions in the arts strand of this year’s Manchester International Festival (MIF23).

Jaun Mata is collaborating with the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist on a multi-part project called The Trequartista: Art and Football United. Their journey began when Obrist, director of the Serpentine Gallery in London and a networker, learned that Mata was following him on Instagram. “I’ve always been interested in bringing different fields into contact with art,” he explains. “Music, architecture, literature, science. So why not football?” At the time, Mata was with Manchester United, and the two men met up in the city. Obrist had some football background having worked in Milan in the early 1990s and as a longtime friend and colleague of the Turner prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon, who had produced the video work Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, focusing on the movements made by French midfielder Zinedine Zidane during a match.

Zidane was one of the great trequartistas – a position originating in Italian football between the midfield and the attack occupied by only the most technically able and imaginative of players. “These are the playmakers, the artists,” says Obrist. “They link everything together. These were the players that made me fall in love with the game as a child. We liked the idea of its creativity, so we decided to bring together players with artists to make different sorts of connections. I’ve always been interested in bringing different fields into art – so why not football?”

They agreed to find 11 players and 11 artists who would collaborate on a series of works, and the Trequartista project was born. Obrist introduced Mata to German-Indian artist Sehgal and together they have created the first work in the series, titled This Entry. Sehgal is best known for his “constructed situations” in which he peoples large spaces with performers who transform the environment through improvised speech, movement, and interaction. The first instalment, This Entry, is a new piece of performance art at the National Football Museum in Manchester, and subsequently at the Whitworth Gallery.

In addition to delighting football fans with his skills Juan Mata has always had an eclectic hinterland. He set up the Common Goal movement that encourages footballers to donate 1% of their earnings to charities and his photographs from the Manchester United tour to India have been exhibited.

“I have always been inspired by and interested in creative people,” he says. “Of course that includes creative footballers, but it also means writers, actors, and artists. Most of my energies are invested in my professional career, but when I have some time to myself, I like to disconnect from football. Curiosity is important to me, so it is not that surprising that I sometimes end up in art galleries.”

Known for artworks composed using exclusively the human body, voice, and social interaction, Tino Sehgal has exhibited his work at the world’s biggest art galleries from New York’s Guggenheim to London’s Tate Modern, Paris’ Palais de Tokyo and Hong Kong’s TaiKwun. His background is in dance, and he said he became increasingly aware of the link between the endless tiny micro adjustments of weight, shape, balance, and direction made by footballers when playing and related movements in choreography and dance. “I love the idea that these movements have meaning and purpose, literally moving towards a goal,” he says. “The players are in constant communication via language, but also via the ball, via their positioning and via their training and planning. It is about both cerebral decisions and physical decisions. It’s also skill-based and requires extensive training and preparation. Even if you can make the right decision, if you don’t have the ability, it doesn’t really help. Football is a combination of cognitive, physical, and psychological skill sets. And all of that is very close to the things I have always aspired to in my work.”

Sehgal has assembled three sets of four multi-skilled, and also multinational, performers who rotate to give three-and-a-half-hour performances of the finished version of This Entry in Manchester. The piece is a departure for Sehgal who is known as “the artist without objects”.

“I have always been primarily interested in interactions purely between humans, but we are the mammal who is best at dealing with external objects, and so I now wanted to integrate that into my work.”

‘This Entry’ is a choreographed exchange between a footballer, violinist, cyclist and singing dancer. At the press view I was mesmerised by the slowly developing interaction between these highly talented performers, including an appearance of Juan Mata exhibiting his skills with a football and some nifty dance steps.

During the q&a launch event Mata compared creative footballers to performance artists whilst bemoaning the emphasis in the modern game on what he called the workers rather than the creatives. He engaged in a lively and very informative discussion with Sehgal about how in his view footballers are energised on the pitch by their supporters whereas performance artists are more likely to be the source of inspiration for their audience. The outcome of an hour’s worth of such interchanges was the agreement that sport and the creative arts have a lot of synergy.

In The Trequartista 11 teams of footballers and artists will work together over two years, culminating in a group show at the 2025 edition of Manchester International Festival.

Jaun Mata has the last word ‘It is fantastic to be returning to Manchester, the city I called home for more than eight years, and to be part of Manchester International Festival for the first time. I am thrilled to be co-curating The Trequartista with Hans Ulrich Obrist over the next two years, bringing together two of my passions: the worlds of football and art.’

SCOTT BROTHERS DUO at Rochdale Parish Church

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

A wonderful opportunity to experience high class music in an iconic setting.

Acclaimed keyboard duo Scott Brothers Duo present a piano duet concert, at Rochdale Parish Church, St Chad’s, which covers the entire keyboard spectrum with thrilling music for four hands at one piano. The programme includes original works as well as thrilling transcriptions of well-known classics, including Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and the Adagio from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) arr. Scott

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Sinfonia from Solomon HWV 67)

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) arr. Scott

Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne HWV 74 - Duet “Let rolling streams their gladness show”.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Fantasie in f minor D 940 Op. 103

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) arr. Scott

Adagio Sostenuto (from Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 18)

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) arr. Scott

Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) arr. Scott

Asturias (Leyenda)

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) arr. Scott

Polovtsian Dances (from Prince Igor)

Tickets £10 including refreshments.

Pay on door or in advance – phone: J Midgley 01706 639162 - email:

Saturday 22 July 2023 3pm

Rochdale Parish Church, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale OL16 1QT



Brothers Jonathan and Tom perform internationally in instrumental combinations which cover the entire keyboard spectrum, including Piano Duet, Piano & Organ, and Harmonium & Piano. Their online performance videos have totalled over 65 million views.

Recent and forthcoming performances include concerts across the UK, as well as Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Latvia, Romania, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Singapore.

In 2019 Scott Brothers Duo won the ECHO (European Cities of Historical Organs) competition to create a performance which introduces the pipe organ to a young audience. Their project combines animation and organ music and will be performed at major festivals across Europe. In 2023, they were invited by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (Launchpad Series) to film a special online presentation in Montreal, Canada about their career.

Born in Manchester, Jonathan, and Tom both studied at Chetham’s School of Music and at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

Tom read Music on the joint course at The University of Manchester, gained the Sir Thomas Beecham Medal for Excellence in his degree, and achieved a distinction in his Masters degree. He made his concerto debut with the Hallé Orchestra, aged 17, with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.1 at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Tom is also a keen artist and animator and creates animations to accompany live classical concerts. This has led to many exciting projects (including commissions by the BBC) and concert performances with orchestras and ensembles worldwide (Canada, USA, Taiwan, and Australia). As a composer, Tom's work ranges from instrumental to acousmatic compositions and audio/visual works, and his music has been performed across Europe and USA. He completed his PhD in electroacoustic composition at The University Of Manchester (supported by AHRC funding).

Jonathan continued his studies in USA and Holland, won the coveted Worshipful Company of Musicians WT Best Scholarship and gold medal, and is a Freeman of The City of London. Jonathan has been a member of the keyboard staff at RNCM since 2001 and is Associate Artist of The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Recent performance highlights have included solo and concerto appearances in Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Poland, Singapore, Spain, and Taiwan as well as the the world premiere of the new organ concerto '6000 Pipes!' by Sir Karl Jenkins. Jonathan also recently gave a series of Concerto performances and tours with the National Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, as well as a solo evening organ recital broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall, London for the BBC Proms.



Sunday 16 July

Freehold Street Festival - Mela

49th Annual Freehold Street Festival - Mela is a big family get together where you enjoy live music and recorded music.

You see Morris Dancers, carnival queen, Dholl (Big Drum) playing, Qawali performance, egg, and spoon races, 5 a side football competition, face painting, Mehndi show offs, ice cream, food stalls, hospice charity stall of prizes - raffle, popcorn stall, and many more.

Circus workshops.


Phone: Dr Mohammed Salim Allah Hoo 01706 647008


The Green King Street South, (Next to 34 King Street South), Rochdale OL11 3TR

Sunday 16 July

Hollingworth Lake Craft and Wellbeing Fair

The popular Hollingworth Lake Craft and Wellbeing Fairs are back at a new lakeside location.

Join them on Lake Bank for the best handmade goods or treat yourself to a relaxing complementary therapy.

Find them on Facebook- Hollingworth Lake Arts and Crafts


Phone: Karen Hill 01706 922132

10am - 2pm

Hollingworth Lake, Lake Bank Road, Littleborough OL15 0DN

Sunday 16 July


Middleton Roundtable would like to invite you to MiddFest 2023.

This year there will be various bands and musicians playing, as well as the dance competition taking place as normal.

Stuntworld international, Inflatable assault course, Climbing wall, Go karts, Face painting, Fun fair, Archery, Football darts, Live entertainment, Dance troupe competition, Craft stalls.



12pm - 5pm

Limefields Park, Manchester Old Road, MiddletonmM24 4DY

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Art Club

The weekly Art Club will regularly explore a variety of topics using collage, drawing, painting, and mixed media drawing from Touchstones Rochdale’s current exhibitions and the borough’s collections. All materials will be provided.

The sessions are designed to reduce stress, build confidence, and meet others through creativity.

Creative Health and Well Being Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation based in Rochdale. They run art sessions that are informal and relaxed whilst ensuring the topics are informative and help participants to build skills.




Touchstones Gallery Rochdale, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AQ

Wednesday 19 July

Me and My Baby Choir - Taster event

Me and My Baby Choir are very excited to announce that they are launching a new choir where parents, grandparents, or anyone with caring responsibilities can come together and sing in a baby-friendly environment.

They are a non-audition choir, and no previous experience is required. You are invited to come along and sing songs from the movies and musicals, which the talented choir director will guide you through and teach some beautiful harmonies.

Children of pre-school age and younger (0-5) are welcome to join you.

Sessions will be held weekly, following a termly pattern similar to schools. The choir are very excited to get everyone together for a wonderful singing experience. They are going to hold a pre-launch taster event in July.

This will run over two weeks; Wednesday 12 and 19 July 10am - 11:15am.

Within these two weeks, your choir director will teach you a short musical theatre song, and will get you all singing in harmony, giving you a taste of how sessions will run!

£12 for 2 weeks

Phone: Laura Kelly 07598 738072



Demesne Community Centre, Asby Close, Middleton M24 4JF

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Tim Kennedy tenor (Cambridge and RNCM staff) and John Gough piano (Chethams & RNCM staff).

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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