Britten 100 Friday Afternoons in Thurrock

I mentioned here that I was involved in the Britten 100 project which was being run by the Thurrock Music Services and how it is part of a much wider project, which huge numbers of young people performing across the country.

Thurrock Music Services decided to approach this differently, rather than expecting the children to perform the songs as they were written, each school worked with a professional musician to create their own piece, in a modern style. There was bhangra, blues, rock, gospel, reggae, rap and others too.

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Some of the schools signed parts of their performance and I do love picking up odd phrases in sign language (I have always wanted to learn it). I am delighted to now be able to sign ‘monnkey climbig a tree’, and most importantly ‘jazz man’. It even uses ‘jazz hands’ as part of the phrase!

It was a highly enjoyable afternoon, with some great performances from each of the different schools involved in the project. It is hard not to be moved by year 4 children (tiny people about 5-6 years old), singing a Britten song in their own way, with new titles and emphasis!

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One of the professional musicians involved was Apollo 5. They worked with several of the schools in different genres and performed their own version of a Britten song acapella and then their own version of the Florence and the Machine cover of ‘you’ve got the love’. As this was the song Gavin and I chose for after we had just become husband and wife I was delighted by it!

Apollo 5
Apollo 5

While I was waiting for the performance to start there were obviously a lot of parents waiting to go in and I overheard one of them saying to another ‘normally I can’t get him to talk about what he has done at school at all, but now he comes home and tells me what he did and who he worked with and who visited him. It is such a difference’. This is phenomenal and just one  effect of young people being involved in the arts – this is a parent recognising that and sharing with her friends. I would dearly love to be involved in collecting parental responses before, during and after an arts project to formalise this into some research.

Royal Opera House Bridge were involved in funding the project, so that there wasn’t a cost for the schools involved. We need to make sure there are not any barriers to taking part in the arts, especially in Thurrock where money is very tight for a lot of people.

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As I have said before Thurrock does not have the best reputation in the world and it often is thought of as being a cultural desert. That may have been true in the past, but it isn’t any more. I am privileged to see some of the work which goes in our local schools and there is an awful lot of creative and arts work happening. Most of the children involved in Friday’s performance will obtain an Arts Award as a result of this and this will hopefully put them onto a life long enthusiasm for the arts as a whole.

Apologies about the quality of images in this post, my camera phone is not up to taking photos from a distance. I was also trying to be discrete about taking photos!.I also can’t remember which school was which. I am not looking to move into photo journalism any time soon and I need to take my proper camera to events like this. Blatella filmed the production on professional camera and so the schools will have a high quality dvd. 

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