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Posted on 24 Apr 2014

Recent Education Work

An update about some recent education work I’ve been doing – alongside violinist Sarah Hill, I organised a two-day composition course for 9-14 year olds, held at Pembroke House in South London. The course was inspired by George Crumb’s piece Eleven Echoes of Autumn, extracts of which we performed during the course with flautist Jenny Dyson, pianist Dasol Lee and clarinettist Dean Wood. Using the piece as a starting point, Sarah and I introduced the children to ideas about timbre, narrative, the transformation of motifs and musical conversation. The 25 young musicians were split into four groups and by the end of the second day, each of these groups had collectively composed a piece of music inspired by paintings by Klee, Matisse, Rousseau and Miró. The course culminated in a showcase concert for friends and family, where the four new pieces were premiered, and we performed the Crumb piece in full. The two days were great fun and we were really proud of the children and what they achieved, and we got some lovely feedback from parents and participants. Below are some beautiful photographs of the workshops taken by Basia Lewandowska Cummings:

As part of the Bangor New Music Festival in March, where my piece Antic Rounds was premiered by Orchestra of the Swan, I co-led a series of workshops in Maesincla and Talysarn schools with Orchestra of the Swan cellist Matthew Forbes. The 2014 festival’s theme was Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary, and we coached the children on telling stories through music. In a concert at the festival, the children from each school told Shakespeare stories and illustrated them through music – Ysgol Maesincla created short musical tableaux based on scenes from King Lear, Macbeth, Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while Ysgol Talysarn created music to accompany a thoroughgoing telling of the story of Romeo & Juliet.

With the London Symphony Orchestra, I was assisting on a project led by Fraser Trainer – eleven young musicians from Camden Schools formed the ‘Camden Festival Band’, alongside Fraser, Jordan Hunt and three LSO players. The children collectively composed musical ideas over a series of workshops, then Fraser went away and arranged this material for the massed choirs of Camden schools and the Camden Youth Orchestra, Jazz Band and Concert Band. The mega-composition, now entitled ‘Shake Off Your Sleep’, was performed at the Royal Albert Hall in March, with the our Festival Band (literally) taking centre stage amongst the thousand-odd performers. We then adapted the piece for the band to perform it alone at a concert at LSO St Luke’s.