Children in Symphony at Last!

Posted on June 15, 2011

Over the current season Manchester Camerata, in partnership with world renowned Ian Simpson Architects are working with 120 primary school children from across Greater Manchester to create an Urban Symphony  inspired by the city’s architecture.  Camerata musicians, a composer, film maker and the architects are working with the children to create four movements of a Manchester Symphony-the fifth and final movement, inspired by Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall will be created by community groups from across the city.

Saturday 28 May saw the culmination of Camerata’s season long Urban Symphony project, with the performance of Movement 5, in association with the Bridgewater Hall.

This grand finale involved five groups of musicians from a wide range of community groups throughout Greater Manchester:

Bolton Girl Guides,
Square 1 community recording studio from Oldham
050 choir for the over 50s
Tameside Junior Accordian Band
WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together) from Manchester.

Watch Video about Manchester Camerata

  Tameside Junior Accordian Band
Women Asylum Seekers Together  

Each group composed music inspired by the Bridgewater Hall itself and the performances were given in different areas of the front of house area, from the foyer to the gallery, with the audience being given a musical tour from one group to the next.

Helped by composer Eve Harrison and Camerata musicians Hannah McCabe (clarinet), Amina Hussain (flute) and Matthew Compton (accordion) the themes included, internationalism, peace and liveliness, the sprung basement of the hall viewpoints and pirate ships!

After the tour the audience were treated to a retrospective film of the first four Urban Symphony movements, and many of the participants stayed on to hear Camerata’s own season finale, a performance of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Urban Symphony Movement 4 – April 2011
Year 5 pupils from Roundthorn Community Primary School were responsible for creating the fourth movement of Urban Symphony, inspired by the unique architecture of The Hive, a building situated in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

The students worked with composer Kate Pearson, film artist Will Robinson and Camerata musicians Helen Quayle and Tim Chatterton to create their own music and film in response to the contemporary architectural features, design approach and building materials of this eco-friendly and efficient building.

  Urban Symphony 4

Students exploring The Hive   At the start of the project on Tuesday 26 April the class explored the building from top to bottom and everywhere in between with the team during a one day site visit, focusing on the environmental and energy saving principles of the building’s design. The class created and recorded soundscapes, used giant Jenga blocks to create a new building masterplan and began to form the film backdrop to their music. Over the next three days the class edited the film and created their new soundtrack.

On Saturday 30 April this talented class performed their exciting new music in a pre-concert performance at the RNCM, fittingly paving the way for Manchester Camerata’s ‘American Sounds’ concert the same evening. The three movement’s of the piece were inspired by the name ‘Hive’, Adams’ Shaker Loops which featured in the concert programme, and the environmental design approach used in this eco friendly building.

lozenge_watch   Follow Year 5 pupils from Roundthorn Community Primary School as they undertake their movement of the year long Urban Symphony Project

Urban Symphony Movement 3 – March 2011

The third movement was created by year 5 and 6 pupils from Lowton West Primary School in Wigan, and was inspired by the modernist architecture of the University of Manchester Renold Building-originally part of the UMIST campus.

Architects Patrick Thomas and Christopher Jackson first introduced the children to both the work Ian Simpson Architects are involved in, and to the structures and shapes of the modernist style; this was followed by a tour of the Renold Building, pausing to observe and sketch as they went. The afternoon was devoted to model making and filming, followed by three days back at school creating music inspired by what they had seen, guided by composer Kate Pearson, David Tollington (french horn). John Melbourne (percussion) and Will Robinson (film maker).


Children outside Renold Building

Lowton West Primary school children   On Saturday March 26th the children presented the completed music and film in a pre-concert performance, nicely setting the scene for Camerata’s programme of twentieth century classics later on in the evening.

lozenge_watch         Watch a film about how the music and film were put together

Urban Symphony Movement 2 – February 2011

Saturday 26th February saw the first performance of the second movement of Manchester Camerata’s year long education project, Urban Symphony. This exciting artistic opportunity was given to Year 5 children from St Mary’s CE Primary School in Davyhulme, Trafford.

The children firstly received an exclusive tour of Manchester’s luxurious Neo-Baroque Midland Hotel, accompanied by guide Barbara Frost and architects Nick Fleming and Johnathan Djabarouti of Ian Simpson Architects, who are supporting and advising for the entirety of this exciting collaborative project.


lozenge_watch   See how Year 5 created their new piece of music and film 

Children marvel at Midland Hotel      

The children learnt about the Hotel’s history and how the features of this opulent building were linked to the music of the Baroque period. Assisted by two Manchester Camerata musicians, composer Kate Pearson and film artist Will Robinson, the pupils then went back to school with their experiences of the day’s exploration to create their own response to this spectacular architecture through music composition and film.

At the end of three productive days of rehearsals, these talented children had their moment of glory when they presented their original composition and film live at RNCM in a pre-concert performance, which nicely complimented the Orchestra’s evening concert programme of Handel and Vivaldi.

Urban Symphony Movement 1 – October 2010

Saturday 23 October saw Manchester Camerata’s year-long education project Urban Syphony beginning to take shape after months of planning.   

The responsibility for creating the Symphony’s first movement fell to a group of Year 5 children from St Philips Church of England Primary School, in Hulme.

The children were given an an exclusive tour with their musical mentors of Manchester Central Library and the Town Hall Extension, currently being remodelled by Ian Simpson Architects who are advising for the whole of this exciting educational project.

Then back to school to create their own handywork! Listen to class teacher Alexander Scott talk about their week.

Listen to Manchester Camerata Podcasts
  Urban Symphony Building Designs


Kate Pearson with St Philips Primary School Children   The creative team also includes three Manchester Camerata musicians plus composer Kate Pearson, and video artist Will Robinson.

Together they’ll be helping each group of children create a piece of music which reflects a particular strand of architecture.  The music will then be shown to the public live on stage at the RNCM Concert Hall before a Manchester Camerata concert

Nick Ponsillo, Head of Learning and Participation at Manchester Camerata, says after months of planning, everything is fitting into place:

“The more we looked at this project the more we realised what a common language there is between architecture and music: we all talk of rhythm, space, structure, pace, tempo and so on. What’s so brilliant about the whole scheme is that it has so many elements from which the children can benefit.”

Listen to Kate describe the workshop sessions and what they are trying to achieve:

Listen to Manchester Camerata Podcasts


At the end of a long day of rehearsals, the children from St Philips Church of England Primary School in Hulme got their moment of glory when they performed their specially composed music live on stage at the RNCM, before Camerata’s concert.

Hear some of their music:

Listen to Manchester Camerata Podcasts

This ambitious learning and participation project is being run in collaboration with The Bridgewater Hall is linked to the orchestra’s theme for the season – Urban Symphonies – and involves children from four different primary schools.

  St Philips School Hulme Performing on RNCM Stage


Bank of America

 The Bridgewater Hall Manchester                Ian Simpson Architects