Following the successful ‘Big Sing’ last summer, our partnership with the Nottingham Music Service (the lead organisation for Nottingham Music Hub) has continued to flourish through a range of projects and new initatives.
Last Autumn, Ellie and Alex worked in 22 schools to prepare young singers for two ‘Christmas in the City’ concerts, which took place in Nottingham’s Albert Hall and the Royal Concert Hall. These concerts included performances from the Hub’s Area Bands, the Robin Hood Youth Orchestra, and Sing City winners. Led by Alex and Ellie, the massed primary choir gave rousing renditions of Santa Claus is coming to town and Avicii’s Hey Brother, and the massed secondary choir delighted us with The Beach Boys’ God only knows. The two choirs joined together for a heart-warming performance of Sing, written by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and an a cappella Zulu lullaby, Thula Mama, both of which featured audience participation taught by Ellie during the concert.
Discussions with colleagues at the Music Service quickly unearthed the desire to have a Hub choir and it was decided that there was enough enthusiasm in the room to make it happen. The Robin Hood Youth Choir was formed in January and has got off to a flying start. Led by Alex and Ellie, rehearsals are on Wednesdays at 4.30pm-5.30pm in Cathedral Hall (during term time). It’s free and open to 8-18 year olds, and there are no auditions.
We have continued to work with the Music Service this last term in helping prepare young children for the Hub’s annual Great Orchestra Experiment. This event provides an opportunity for children, many of whom have never attended a live performance, to see an orchestra play and to participate with high quality musicians. These young people (usually in Year 4) will have been learning a musical instrument as a class through Whole Class Ensemble Teaching or ‘In Harmony’ programmes run by the Hub. They are brought together to experience a whole range of orchestral music presented in a theatrical and engaging way. This year’s programme included Berlioz’s March to the Scaffold, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and John Powell’s music from the film, How to train your dragon. The young people were also treated to performances by the Villiers String Quartet, which included music by composer Elizabeth Kelly, Professor of Composition at the University of Nottingham, who was present on the day too. Part of the success of the event is that young people get to play their instrument (which they’ll only have been learning for a few months) on stage with the Robin Hood Youth Orchestra. Alex and Ellie’s role was to help the children get up to scratch with the vocal parts so they could sing along with the orchestra too!
Over 1,400 children took part across two concerts held at the Albert Hall on Wednesday 27 March. The aim of these projects is to enthuse and inspire these young people, sparking a curiosity about music in them that will hopefully develop into a life-long love, both as audience members and participants.
The Nottingham Music Service (NMS) started in 2002 as part of the Nottingham City Council and, in 2014, became an independent registered charity.
NMS is the lead organisation for the Nottingham Music Education Hub. The National Plan for Music Education, published by the Department for Education in 2011, requres Music Education Hubs and all state-funded schools and academies to work together to ensure that all young people are able to access the entitlements enshrined in that plan. The vision of NMS is that all children and young people in Nottingham have an inspiring and rewarding experience of making music with others, and, as such, NMS works in collaboration with several partner organisations to promote music in the city and contribute to the community.
This year, thanks to the combined skill-set of our new Youth Choir Director, Ellie, and Director of Music, Alex, the Cathedral Music Department have been able to work with NMS to help deliver their Singing Strategy in city schools. Throughout the months of May and June, Ellie and Alex visited 21 schools to deliver singing workshops in preparation for a combined ‘Summer Sing’ performance at Nottingham’s Albert Hall. They introduced the children and young people to good singing technique and taught a set of secular songs which would be performed together with all schools. On Wednesday 20 June, over 800 school children gathered in the Albert Hall for workshops with Alex and the a cappella ensemble, Apollo5, before sharing events for family and friends.
The success of this partnership has resulted in the development of a new partnership between NMS and the Cathedral’s Music Department. This autumn will see a similar series of school workshops culminating in performances at NMS’s ‘Christmas in the City’ concerts at the Albert Hall and Royal Concert Hall, as well as a new Hub Youth Choir based at the Cathedral led by Ellie and Alex.