The TRACE Project – featuring the SÓN eWaste Project under the direction and creative lead of Robin Browning – has won Campaign of the Year at the National Recycling Awards in London. Involving 85 youngsters from Otterbourne School, Hampshire, performing alongside seven professional SÓN Orchestra musicians (including strings, percussion and electronics), the final project was performed twice to sell-out audiences just before lockdown in March 2020.

Making up the rest of the TRACE Project was artwork by Susannah Pal, and the entire project came under the guidance of one of the world’s leading environmental scientists, Professor Ian Williams – Principal Investigator, and who collected the award at the London Hilton Hotel. With funding from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the TRACE Project explores themes and responses to the growing global issue of Electronic Waste, or eWaste.

With songs such as Bob the iPhone and Monster Electric – a rap about a recycling robot – the project garnered considerable praise, ensuring a long-lasting legacy in the minds of those involved, as well as for their families and further afield.

Robin Browning – who conducted, workshopped and co-composed (along with songwriter Ricky Tart) – said:

This was undoubtedly one of the most inspirational projects I’ve ever been involved in during 25 years as a professional musician. Before it began I knew it had the potential to really impact lives and make a massive splash, as well as an incredible team behind it. I’m so proud of everyone who brought this to reality!

Blog posts, other articles and interviews as well as fly-on-the-wall footage can be found on the dedicated micro-site.

Despite this huge, national award, the TRACE Project journey is not over. Funding has just been awarded for step two of the project, again with funding from the EPSRC. Robin Browning extends his creative work, becoming Musician in Residence (focussing once more on eWaste and sustainability) and Susannah Pal is Artist in Residence (concentrating on plastic waste). More news on this coming very soon – check back here for further updates.

Photos below are a selection from the original workshops and rehearsals. More can be seen on the SÓN eWaste Project micro-site. (All photo credits – Robin Browning and Molly Ellis)