Students from Heart of England School, along with children from other Solihull schools recently gave a performance which delighted the audience at the Warwick Arts Centre.
A mass orchestra, Orchestra of Solihull Schools in Concert (OSoSiC) made up of over 200 young people, provided the entertainment, which for the first time included a choir. Schools from around the borough set off during the morning to meet for the first rehearsal which was due to start at 1pm, with conductor Daniel Watson.
After rehearsing well, everyone broke for lunch although for some it was working lunch. The choir rehearsed separately in the Helen Martin studio with help from a director from Armonico Consort. They rehearsed with enthusiasm and the choir of boys and girls from secondary and primary school produced a good sound.
Conductor Daniel Watson rehearsed the orchestra hard and the performers responded well to his leadership. He had been rehearsing with them for several weeks. The young musicians have also been working with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Members of the Conservatoire Learning and Participation Ensemble (LEAP) were there on hand, sitting amongst the orchestra and playing with the students.
Speaking about the origins of the OSoSiC project, Richard Jones, Assistant Head of Solihull Music said: “A network of music teachers meets throughout the year to discuss and share ways to develop music in Solihull schools. It provides support to teachers and allows staff to network with other Solihull members.
The concert is based on the BBC Ten Pieces and Richard spoke about the importance of inspiring young people to perform and about the crucial role of the partnerships in projects: “The Ten Pieces provide a vehicle to consolidate links within the Solihull Music Hub, which is further enhanced by our partnerships with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the BBC Concert Orchestra.”
Although there were some signs of nerves, everyone was keen to get started. The concert began at 7 o’clock with an intense and passionate version of Zadok the Priest by Handel. It was a good start!
The programme included a world premiere of a new piece written by Natalie, Heart of England, Year 13. Titled, Peter Pan Overture, the piece is based on the characters of the pirates, Tinkerbell, the children and Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story. “I wrote it over several months for an A Level composition. I love film music and it’s fantastic to hear it played – it really came to life!” Natalie said she was helped by feedback from players and the conductor allowing her to revise the piece.
The orchestra and singers went from strength to strength during the performance which included solos, small ensembles and a humorous and entertaining performance of the Minute Waltz played on xylophone by George and Miriam from the Conservatoire's LEAP.
The performers went from strength to strength along with powerful and dramatic performances of pieces like Finlandia (Sibelius) and Dies Irae (Verdi), there were moments of calm and focus provided by solos from Louisa (Tudor Grange) who played the cornet and Amy (Tudor Grange) on violin.
It was a great day for musical excellence and such a great opportunity to see our students reach out to an audience and thrill them. There was even an encore!