School’s Music Project 2015: Chroma Ensemble
Musicians from the Chroma Ensemble headed to Norwich from 2-4 March, for the annual schools’ music project, with the theme this year of ‘Americana’. Workshops were held in each of seven primary schools, in Norwich at Eaton, Cringleford, George White, West Earlham, Bluebell and Bignold, plus Yaxham in the county. The rhythmic pulsing of the opening piece, Aaron Copland’s ‘Hoedown’ from ‘Rodeo’, instantly caught the children’s attention. With an unusual mix of instruments, the pupils appreciated seeing members of the string, woodwind and brass families, as Dave le Page (violin), Clare O’Connell (cello) Elena Hull (double bass), Emma Fielding (oboe and cor anglais) and Heidi Bennett (trumpet) showed them what each instrument would do and how it worked. A little good-humoured rivalry between the musicians, – claiming “my instrument is the oldest”, or the biggest/ deepest / loudest – added to the fun! After hearing excerpts from Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Antonin Dvořák, and Edgar Meyer among others, plus some original American bluegrass, everyone learned the song ‘I bought me a cat’.
The highlight of the event was the hour long lunchtime concert on the last day at the John Innes Centre. The children enjoyed the special experience of sharing a concert with all the other schools, in the large auditorium. They heard again some of the rhythmic music from earlier, as well as some new pieces and Joseph Padfield sang American songs in a rich bass-baritone voice. The audience was attentive during a longer, atmospheric piece by Aaron Copland, ‘Quiet City’. The composition, originally written for trumpet, cor anglais and strings, was the reason that Chroma had chosen to bring this particular selection of players to Norwich. As a finale, everyone sang ‘I bought me a cat’ with the benefit of Joseph Padfield’s singing to help it along. In total the project reached approximately 900 children either in their own school or in school and at the concert hall.
Chetham’s School workshops, February 2015
In February 2015, following a concert the previous evening at The Chapel, a String Quartet and a pianist from Chetham’s School, (the music specialist school in Manchester) worked with Year 6 pupils in two local primary schools. Graham Oppenheimer, school staff member and himself a viola player, led the workshops, with the music being played with great professionalism by sixth form pupils. The workshops were fun, fast paced and well-targeted for the age group. They helped to focus the children’s active listening, using various excerpts, ranging from Shostakovich and Elgar through to the theme tunes of popular TV programmes! One school commented: “it was challenging and still accessible… they all felt that they would now like to attend a classical concert, which is something some of them would not have wanted to do beforehand”. In a thank you from the second school, they said: “You played beautifully and the music was extraordinary. It was a great experience for us to hear live music and now we have a different perspective of what classical music is like”. Altogether some 160 children enjoyed this experience. The visit was facilitated by Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music.