ULVERSTON International Music Festival is mere weeks away and one of the region’s rising singing stars is playing a major and highly inventive part.

Barrow-born contralto Jess Dandy teams up with one of the UK’s leading pianists, Martin Roscoe, for a lunchtime recital at the Coronation Hall as part of the 10-day festival, which runs from Friday, June 7, until Sunday, June 16.

Jess and Martin’s performance on Friday, June 14 (1pm) is an introduction to SongPath, an initiative Jess co-founded with mezzo-soprano, Joanna Harries, to promote walking and music making in the context of mental health, by exploring the routes and roots of the local landscape. Jess and Martin’s recital is the lead into the Sunday’s (June 16) inaugural SongPath event, which starts at 10am from Bardsea, before making its tuneful trail to the Bronze Age stone circle on the limestone pavements of Birkrigg Common. The Woodland Trust’s Swarthmoor Hall Wood comes next, before SongPath continues to Swarthmoor Hall itself.

Jess - who was the winner of the London Bach Society Bach Singers Prize 2017 - says that SongPath is inspired by Hildegard Von Bingen’s quote, “The Path is short but the way is deep,” and will raise funds for Mind in Furness and Ulverston Mind: “I devised the concept of SongPath with Joanna, a close friend and fellow musician, whilst I was suffering from my own mental health problems,” explains Jess. “Having studied in London and begun working as a classical singer, I was forced to return to Barrow where I received outstanding treatment from local mental health services. Searching for complex solutions, I was almost disappointed to find that cumulative, slow and steady improvement could be cultivated in fundamental acts; putting one foot in front of the other, singing a song, talking with friends, family, professionals and community, probably saved my life.

“My cognitive behavioural therapist helped me to turn my attention outwards, to reconnect to the external world, which my inner preoccupations had so long obscured. I thought it would be interesting to bring all of these fundamental acts together, to create an environment in which all of us could connect to a SongPath.”

For full details of Ulverston International Music Festival and tickets contact the Coro on 01229-587140.