Schools Music Project 2012
Norwich Chamber Music has organised a special schools concert at The John Innes Centre, Norwich again – a project now in its 14th year. The aim of the project is to give young children between 7-11 years the experience of a live classical music concert in a special venue away from the school environment. In preparation for this concert the musicians visit each school for a workshop to introduce themselves, their instruments and the music they will play. This year the concert was on Friday 2nd March 2012, with the schools’ workshops in the preceding two days. The participating Norwich based primary schools were Bignold, Bluebell, Tuckswood, Eaton and Cringleford V A , with West Earlham Junior plus Yaxham V A Primary in Norfolk.
The theme was “the Seasons” featuring music by Vivaldi (Autumn and Spring), Tchaikovsky (Troika), Delius (On hearing the first cuckoo of Spring), Stravinsky (Rite of Spring) and Piazzolla (Winter) plus “Summertime” from Porgy & Bess.
Chroma, the London based professional classical music group, is well known to Music Club members. On this occasion it comprised the complete string family with Clare O’Connell leader on cello, Anna Biggin first violin, Gillon Cameron second violin, Joel Hunter viola, and Elena Hull on double bass. They were joined by David Gordon on harpsichord for the concert. Chroma introduced their instruments in the workshops in school and then encouraged the children to listen out in Vivaldi for the musical descriptions of birds singing, the ice melting to form rustling streams and a dog barking in the distance. Then they played Piazzolla remembering that winter in Argentina is summer in Europe. Staying in summer, Elena improvised on the double bass while the children were encouraged to imagine they were basking, baking hot in the sun, hardly able to move, the horizon a ripple in the distance – gosh, we all got a suntan! Then we all joined in singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. We had 311 children and adults in the concert (restricted by the hall’s capacity) but in the schools we were able to hold workshops in assembly halls enabling us to reach about 750 children.
The workshops on 1st March coincided with World Book Day and children at Bignold were dressed up as their favourite character from a book and at West Earlham as “spies”. This made for lively audiences for the musicians.
Feedback from Children and Teachers:
Some comments from the children and teachers give a flavour of the week:-
“My class really enjoyed the whole week of work around the music. The workshop and concert were the icing on the cake. Everyone loved both! (They have asked to have the music playing in the classroom this week)” Bignold. The Bignold children also wrote poems about Springtime, one of which was read out at the concert.
“It was like being at a grown up concert.” West Earlham
“A most invaluable experience for the whole school. We cannot thank you enough!.” Yaxham
“Thank you, yet again, for this incredible opportunity as other than this many of our children would not get to experience a classical concert.” Tuckswood
“The musicians were funny and fun to watch. There was a real buzz from all the children and staff after the school session” Tuckswood
“Thank you very much for this great musical opportunity.” Cringleford
“I like the funny one on the viola… They must have been practising for, like, 3 years!” comment from a 7 year old at West Earlham
“Unanimous -it was brilliant. We now sing “Summertime” with the choir and hope to talk about the workshop and the concert, and sing it to the whole school in our next assembly” West Earlham
The concert is free to the schools and financed and organised by the Music Club with funds donated by members and various charitable trusts. This year we were particularly grateful to The Barbara Whatmore Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust and The Joanna Scott Foundation. A big thank you too to Alan Gotto who supplied and tuned the harpsichord for the concert.
Additional workshops in September 2012
On Friday 21st September 2012 Chroma Ensemble comprising Sarah O’Flynn on flute, David Aspin on viola and Helen Sharp on harp took music workshops in two local schools. In the morning at Avenue Road school they were welcomed by the Deputy Head and played to the whole school (over 400 pupils) and their teachers. In the afternoon, they visited Town Close School to participate in the School’s 80th birthday celebrations in front of pupils, teachers and parents. The theme was “Dances from around the World.” and the music included the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music, Chopin’s Minute Waltz, Ravel’s Piece en Forme D’Habanera, Watkins South American Fire Dance and the Elegiac Trio by Bax. Both events were received very enthusiastically. There was some audience participation in rhythm clapping and an instructive question time. Helen was not disappointed in her questions (evidently she always gets asked how much her harp cost!) but got her own back by explaining and demonstrating one of her favourite musical terms – the “hemiola” (i.e. the rhythmic device of superimposing two notes in the time of three or three in the time of two). Chroma then went on to play a concert in the Chapel which members and friends may have attended. The cost of this schools’ work was met from the Club’s funds set aside for educational projects – in this case with particular support from one of our members. If any members wish to find out more about how they might support these education projects please contact Susan Jack or Michael Fowler on the committee.