Camerata ‘mesmerises’ kids

Posted on February 23, 2010

Muso Life’s Lauren Strain praises Manchester Camerata’s Songbook of the Earth project

“It’s a little after the fact, but we wanted to flag up a rather special event that occurred at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 27 January.

More than 2000 school children from Manchester and its attendant regions were present that morning for a special concert from the Manchester Camerata. The orchestra mesmerised the packed-out hall with a performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, complete with explanations and jokes for the little ones.

This writer was pleased to hear of such an event; such large-scale concerts expressly for an audience comprised of Key Stage 2 students are, sadly, quite rare, probably for reasons of logistics (getting all those kids out of school and into the city centre can’t be simple!) and timetabling (day trips involve lots of co-ordination between teachers and extra parental help, not to mention money).

But, when the effort is made, the overwhelmingly positive results can be clearly seen on the kids’ faces; for many of these children, the concert will have been their first ever experience of an orchestra in action.

The concert was the largest ever education project staged by the Camerata and the Bridgewater Hall, and existed as part of the orchestra and venue’s Songbook of the Earth Learning and Prticipation Project – which in itself is a component of the citywide Mahler Festival, which began on 16 January and will continue until 5 June.

Due to the resounding success of the Beethoven event, it is hoped that similar occasions will be programmed for the future.

In the meantime, many of the children who attended the concert have their own big moment onstage to look forward to. On 19 April, the end result of the ambitious Songbook of the Earth education project – which also involves a series of live workshops attended by 14 schools from the Greater Manchester region – will take the form of a gala concert at the Bridgewater Hall, in which lots of the children will perform their Songbook of the Earth song cycle.

The song cycle has been written by the youngsters themselves with help from the Bridgewater Hall’s poet-in-residence Terry Caffrey, composer Kate Pearson and a number of Camerata musicians. “

The songbook itself will be published in the early summer.

To read the whole blog click here

This project has been funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

To read more about the the Songbook of the Earth project click here