Jason Thornton and the Bath Philharmonia’s Creative Learning Team
This year’s Outreach project was an ambitious one, inspired by the Bath Philharmonia’s programming of the Elgar Cello Concerto. It was led by Jason Thornton and the Bath Philharmonia’s Creative Learning Team. Similar in some ways to their previous project with us in 2014, it set out to work with local students to create a concerto, in this case for violin – beautifully played by Katy Rowe, a member of the orchestra and the team. The project ran over 5 days, and involved students from two schools – Teignmouth Community School and Orchard Manor Special School in Dawlish.
As part of the Festival’s mission to engage young people in making and appreciating music, Bath Philharmonia have provided something very special for 40 students aged between thirteen and sixteen years.
From the off on day one, Jason and the team soon had the students engaged, relaxed and having fun. Each day began with warm-up games, often crazy, but involving some rhythmic or other musical element. Then the real hard work began. The TCS students brought their own instruments and were encouraged to devise melodies and rhythms over chord sequences selected from the Elgar concerto. The results were fascinating and increasingly adventurous as the students became more confident. These were gradually linked and structured to make up to two outer movements.
The Orchard Manor students also worked over a chord sequence to devise a nocturne movement, suggesting features of a night sky and improvising with voices and a variety of instruments. The workshop sessions and their final piece were amazing, as was their focus and engagement.
A fast and playful movement was improvised by TCS using some parameters of the fast movement of the Elgar but using very different instruments – boomwhackers, triangles, vibraslaps and others. A fizzing and fun piece resulted from this. The final performance, in a lunchtime concert, delighted audiences and thrilled the performers. They were augmented by Shaldon School choir who sang three lovely songs, and OLSP Year 5 violinists who performed 2 songs, swapping deftly between playing their violins and singing. The whole experience was an extraordinarily exciting and moving one for all involved. We all learnt so much and got to know each other ‘like a family’ as one student put it.
Special thanks to the multi-talented Creative Learning Team, Jason, Katy, Dylan, Cam and Tom, as well as the totally committed and supportive school staff Patrick Saturley, Nina Jarram, Kip Pratt and Lisa Price.
Many thanks also to our sponsors who made this possible by their generosity; The Helen Foundation, The Arts Society South West *through Teignbridge and District Decorative and Fine Arts Society, Dawlish Town Council and Teignbridge District Council.
Kate Hill-Art June 23rd 2019
Over the course of five days the Bath Philharmonia’s Creative Learning Team, including Musical Director Jason Thornton and Principal Cellist Miriam Lowbury*, will work with pupils from Teignmouth Community School (a mainstream, state funded senior school for boys and girls) and Orchard Manor School (a residential school for students aged 3 – 19 with a variety of specific learning needs) to create a ‘concerto’ from scratch. Bath Phil will be bringing additional specialist instruments and equipment for the students from Orchard Manor to enable their participation in the workshops.
The finished work will be performed at a free lunchtime concert in St Peter’s Church, Shaldon at 1pm on Thursday 20 June 2019. The concert will also include items from pupils of Shaldon Primary School and Our Lady & St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Primary School, and there will be a bucket collection at the end.
*Miriam Lowbury, the principal cellist of the Bath Philharmonia, is playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the orchestra on Thursday evening. She is also going to be working with the Outreach Team earlier in the week, with young people from local schools. However, on medical advice she is having to restrict herself to playing in the Thursday evening concert only. We are delighted that Katy Rowe, also a member of the orchestra, will be working with the students in her place. This means that the resulting concerto being evolved during the workshops, will be a violin concerto instead of a cello one. We are very grateful to the Bath Phil Team have been able to make this adjustment so quickly.
We are enormously grateful to The Helen Foundation, The Arts Society S.W. Area, Dawlish Town Council and Teignbridge District Council for supporting this outreach programme.