Chester Urban Symphony Triumph

Posted on January 23, 2011

Thursday 20 January 2011 saw the culmination of the Chester Urban Symphony project which brought together four schools from the city with a creative team from Camerata to create a new piece of work inspired by the architecture of Chester Cathedral.

Chester Urban Symphony Project  

The idea behind Manchester Camerata’s Urban Symphony project is to encourgage young people to look around them and take inspiration from the buildings that are part of their every day lives. And then go on to create a musical expression based upon them. Architect Andy Foster gave the children taking part a tour of the cathedral.

“Architecture is regarded as background, and people don’t tend to look at it.  It must be quite difficult to relate the abstract of architecture to the abstract of music. It’s not an easy concept for an adult, let alone a young person.”

Taking part in this project – four local schools, St Theresa’s Catholic Primary, The Arches Community Primary, Highfield Community Primary and Saighton Church of England Primary. 

They worked with a creative team from Manchester Camerata made up on Violinist Becca Thompson, Oboist Rachael Clegg, film maker Will Robinson who created a film that became a backdrop for the final performance, and composer Andy Smith who worked with the children on developing their musical creation.

“Composition at primary school is something that is not a core subject. Music is taught. Singing is taught. But composition can often be put to one side.  So to get children to create new music based on something that they know – Chester Cathedral in the heart of their city for example – has been challenging.”

  Chester Urban Symphony

Chester Urban Symphony   Musicians Rachael Clegg and Becca Thompson worked with the children in their various schools to introduce them to music, musical instruments and the sounds they could create to tell a story. 

Becca Thompson believes the experience opens the children’s eyes to their own musical capabilities. 

“The children were very interested in music and wanted to take part in the whole process – which perhaps they wouldn’t have done ordinarily. It’s providing that thing that you can’t do in an individual music lesson. Giving that opportunity for making sound – processing it and putting it together – whetting their appetite for composition later at GCSE level.”

Watch Video about Manchester Camerata   Watch a video we’ve made about the Urban Symphony project in Chester
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Watch Video about Manchester Camerata   See a slideshow of the final performance of the Chester Urban Symphony which took place inside Chester Cathedral on Thursday 20 January 2011.

Listen to Manchester Camerata Podcasts   Listen to a podcast about the development of the project and how it was performed on the day. 

Learn more about Manchester Camerata’s Learning and Participation Projects
Discover more about similar Urban Symphony Projects