Education 2014

Tasmin Little and Sistema in Norwich
The Committee feel that “Sistema in Norwich” is a really worthwhile project to support. It works in neighbourhoods in Norfolk which have fewer resources and generally lower levels of achievement than other areas and does this by encouraging social development through the skills required to learn music, play an instrument and work as a team member in an orchestra. In addition to helping with a cash donation we had the idea of sponsoring Tasmin Little to take some master classes with the children on Friday 28th February (prior to her sell out concert with Martin Roscoe on 1st March) knowing that she had experience of similar educational work in Liverpool. This plan blossomed with the addition of an evening fund raising event for Sistema at the John Innes Centre with performances from the children as well as Tasmin Little. Tasmin performed her “Naked Violin” programme. The children were invited to bring their parents who took great pride in their offspring performing on stage. The audience enjoyed a marvellous evening and found out more about the work of Sistema. 

We were pleased to raise over £2000 from ticket sales that evening and know of a number of audience members who have been moved to donate instruments for the expanding orchestra as well as offer financial support for the longer term. Our own thanks go to the members of Norwich Chamber Music who made the event possible both in funding as well as support on the night. Marcus Patteson, the Programme Director of Sistema in Norwich, comments as follows: “We thought the whole day (Feb 28) a great success. The children really enjoyed the experience of working and performing with Tasmin and are still talking about it. One of the younger siblings (aged 5) of one of the violinists, who came to watch the performance, declared that she was going to play violin when she was older and be just as good as Tasmin. It just reinforces the impact that such an inspiring person can have, and it is part thanks to the support we have had from Norwich Chamber Music over the last 6 months that she will be able to get involved in Sistema in Norwich and possibly achieve that dream.

Schools Music Project 2014
March 3rd -5th saw the Chroma Ensemble in Norwich again for the schools’ music project and it has now become a “given” that the sun always shines on those days! The theme of “Folk Tales” was portrayed by a lively mix of musicians – Dave le Page on violin, Clare O’Connell on cello, Rafal Luc on button accordion and the folk duo Jack O’Neill and Charlie Heys (with Jack on clarinet and acoustic guitar and Charlie on folk fiddle).
The workshops took place in 7 primary schools (in Norwich at Eaton, Cringleford, Tuckswood, West Earlham, Bluebell and Bignold plus Yaxham in the county). The musicians introduced their instruments and played extracts from the concert programme. The children were taught the chorus of a folk song which unusually had 7 beats in a bar (!) and words of “All I want is a glass of water”. In some schools we had the whole school assembled for the workshops.

Overall we reached an estimated 900 children. The special aspect of the project is the concert as it is away from the school environment and the children have the experience of being with other school children, and appreciate the importance of concert etiquette (particularly with an auditorium of 300 children and adults). The hour long lunchtime concert was at the John Innes Centre and the programme included a special guest in the form of William Allenby, an opera singer but, for this event, a wonderful story teller. The concert programme included works by Brahms (Hungarian Dances) , Bartók (Romanian Folk Dances), Kodály (Harry Janos Suite), Czardas or traditional Hungarian Folk Dances (made famous by the Italian composer Vittorio Monti) and Janáček’s Pohadkha.

Some comments from the schools:
“A golden opportunity for the children to see/ hear musicians and their instruments and be exposed to a world (of opportunity) beyond their immediate world.”
“The musicians explained very well to the children and used language they could understand.”
“The children enjoyed going out on a coach and also the venue is excellent with a great view of the stage.”
“It’s been different but equally brilliant every year we have participated. The children gain a lot from it.”
“Perfect! The children loved it. Thank you for a lovely musical experience!”

The event is free to the schools but we need to raise approximately £6,000 to fund the 3 days and we are very grateful for the generosity of our members (who also accommodate the musicians) as well as the help we receive from various charities which support us in this work. In particular we wish to thank the Woodroffe Benton Foundation which is providing funding towards the total we need for four consecutive years – a marvellous boost.

O Duo workshop at the Hewett School, October 2014
In October 2014 (as well as appearing in concert at the John Innes Centre) O Duo, an exceptionally talented pair of percussionists, gave two workshops at the Hewett School, Norwich. The first involved children from Lakenham and the second percussionists and others from ‘Sistema Norwich’. Sistema works to enrich resources in parts of  Norfolk which would particularly benefit. It encourages social development through the skills required to learn together to play instruments and work as team members. Oliver Cox and Owen Gunnell made a dynamic and inspirational duo, whose fast-paced work, using a huge range of instruments, kept the students fully engaged. A concert in the Walter Roy Theatre rounded off the day, allowing families and Music Club members to share the fun. Norwich Chamber Music has supported Sistema in various ways in the past and sponsored these workshops and the concert.