175-On Chester On

Posted on May 5, 2015

‘175-On Chester On’ Opera celebrates 175 years of the University of Chester

More than more than 350 performers gathered on Monday 11 May at Chester Cathedral to take part in a spectacular mini opera to celebrate the University of Chester’s 175th Anniversary.

The performance was the culmination of Manchester Camerata’s latest project with the University’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, which continues the tradition of Teacher Training at Chester.

“175-On Chester On” involved pupils from eight local schools, teacher training students, University staff and former students working with performance artists from Camerata. The narrative of the performance told the story of the University’s history. Each school worked closely with a Camerata musician, composer and dramatist to devise the music, lyrics and drama to bring the story to life. The project aimed to tie together the founding of the Diocesan Teacher Training College in 1839 to the University that exists today.

Over the last four years Camerata has formed a partnership with the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services and the Phillip Barker Trust. The Anniversary performance is without doubt the largest and most ambitious project to date.  Previously, Faculty students have worked alongside Camerata in a number of Cheshire schools engaged in a variety of projects including the Cheshire Fire Service projects of Tinderbox, Heroes with Grimy Faces and a project where children and adults from the local community explored the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King’s iconic speech.

Anna Sutton, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, said: “Working with Camerata has enabled teacher training students to develop their own practice, confidence and ability. Ideas, teaching strategies, techniques and subject knowledge have been shared with student teachers to develop their own subject knowledge and understanding. It has been a privilege to work again with artists from Manchester Camerata.

The performance was developed by school pupils over many weeks. History has been enacted and a script devised using music to facilitate the story line. The pupils have learnt to work together to be creative and to explore their musical talent. The performance on Monday, May 11 was a wonderful experience focusing on the work of the University to date and how this work has  impacted on the lives of children and young people.”

Nick Ponsillo, Manchester Camerata’s Head of Learning and Participation said ‘It has been an honour to play a part in celebrating the University of Chester’s 175th Anniversary, particularly the Faculty of Education – the founding department and the first teacher training college in England.  Our “175-On Chester On” project has been our most ambitious undertaking together and outwardly expresses our shared commitment to creative learning in schools.’