In the week before the October half-term 2016, RPO Resound was delighted to partner Buckinghamshire Learning Trust Music (BLTM) to deliver an exciting project with three primary schools from across North Buckinghamshire. Pupils from Whitchurch Combined, Winslow CE Combined and Buckingham Primary Schools each enjoyed a half-day workshop with RPO Creative Leader Jason Rowland and members of the Orchestra to create their own unique group compositions inspired by Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.
The workshop involved pupils with a range of musical experiences working together on percussion, voice or their own musical instrument to explore a range of skills needed to be able to write their own music as part of a team.
From these workshops, pupils were invited to participate in a Creative Workshop Day held at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, on Thursday 27 October. Twenty-two young musicians from the primary schools and Aylesbury Music Centre spent the day working with Jason, members of the Orchestra and BLTM student leaders to create their own compositions, which were then performed in the foyer of the Theatre as a pre-concert performance to a packed audience.
"I really enjoyed the entire day and hope that the RPO will be able to run a composition workshop like this one again soon." (Student Leader)
"A brilliant day. The girls haven't stopped talking about it!" (Parent)
"I enjoyed watching the orchestra and developing the music with the rest of the group. I really enjoyed the way it all came together. It felt as though we made something really special." (Primary School Participant)
BLTM Student Leader Emily Sampson gives a personal account of the exciting day...
"On 27 October, during half-term, myself and six other student leaders got the incredible opportunity of working with some professional musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and children from primary schools across Aylesbury Vale to perform a five-minute piece based on Mendelsohn's Violin Concerto in E minor. The day included various composition tutorials and workshops led by Jason, who leads the RPO's workshops around the country. These workshops explored development in melodic ideas, tonality and working together as an ensemble and also meant that many different attendees of different standards could really show their talent through small solos throughout the piece. We also had the amazing chance to attend an open rehearsal to watch the RPO practise Mendelsohn's famous work, and look at how a professional rehearsal is organised, which was definitely one of the highlights of the day for me.
"The piece we performed took inspiration from the opening eight bars of Allegro molto appassionato, the first movement of the piece. We used the same scale to create an eight-bar melodic motif, with myself coming up with the first two bars and the fifth and sixth bars, and the string section coming up with the other two phrases. Our helper from the RPO was Erik Chapman, a First Violin who was kind and very knowledgeable. We then started to add in other sections, which included a clarinet-only section with a solo from a little boy called Daniel, and a solo section featuring the four student leaders in the melodic group performing improvised solos based on the notes from the melodic idea. The drummers had many different rhythmic patterns throughout the piece; the brass had various counter melodies, and the tuned percussion were often used to introduce a new section of the piece, which created a sense of mystery.
"The open rehearsal took place at 2pm, and really was a spectacle. The soloist, Carolin Widmann, was incredible and it was amazing that she was able to remember the entire three movements of the piece, considering that the whole piece lasted twenty-seven minutes! It certainly shows what a lot of practice can do for someone's skill. The entire piece was full of complex rhythms, hugely difficult cadenzas and many other difficult techniques. The conductor and Carolin worked together to ensure that the orchestra and the conductor worked well together and that everything was balanced. I also attended the main concert in the evening, and it was outstanding!
"I have learnt so much about music and how to create a successful performance from this incredible day, and I hope to attend their next concert at the Waterside Theatre, in May, of Beethoven's Piano Concerto."
For more information about the work of the BLTM, visit their website.