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"Music is forever.." (Paul Simon)

posted 7 Jun 2013, 06:48 by Web Admin
Submitted by admin.rpa on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 18:35

The end of 2011 was a good one for Richmond Park Academy. Musically, we put on two wonderful performances, both in the same penultimate week, and both a testimony to the extraordinary dedication and hard work of Ms Fairbairn, Subject Leader for music and dance.  The annual Christmas concert, held as ever in All Saints' wonderful church, was the best ever with readings, musicians, a funny and engaging play based on "T'was the night before Christmas", guitar and percussion groups and some wonderful singing. We are truly fortunate to have so many talented students at RPA but the evening was made for me and the audience by the tremendous warmth and enjoyment exhibited by the performers and and the sheer fun that the they all had. Mulled wine and mince pies were provided by the Friends and the evening ended only too soon. Well done to all concerned: we are so proud of you.


In the same week, about 20 of our able musicians participated in an amazing performance of "The Monkey's Paw", put together by them in collaboration with the Aurora Orchestra and Burlington Danes School. This project was facilitated by one of the schools with whom we work in partnership, St Paul's. Who are the Aurora Orchestra? I quote from Ms Fairbairn:

"To launch a new orchestra in the cut-throat musical marketplace that is London requires courage and conviction. To sustain it through five seasons, during which you programme everything from the Baroque sounds of Gabrieli and Lully to the avant-garde scores of Berio and Adams, shows brilliance as well as bravado."
The Times, 2011

Aurora is one of only two new orchestras in the UK to receive National Portfolio funding this year, and winner of the 2011 Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award, Aurora Orchestra has established itself over just six years as the most significant new British chamber orchestra in a generation. With flourishing London residencies at LSO St Luke’s and Kings Place, a busy regional touring calendar, and an ambitious programme of work beyond the concert hall, Aurora has developed a reputation for virtuosic live performance, innovative programming and adventurous cross-arts collaboration, engaging new audiences in London and beyond.

Recent and current season highlights include concerts as part of the Kings PlaceMozart Unwrappedseries (alongside guest artists including Rosemary Joshua, Samuel West, and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge); a touring production of Alexander Goehr’sPromised Endwith English Touring Opera; and performances at the Royal Albert Hall for the 2010 and 2011 BBC Proms.Aurora’sNew Movesseries at LSO St Luke’s has continued to reinvent the classical concert format with eclectic cross-arts programming, fusing orchestral music with film, theatre and dance.

The project:

Aurora have been working with Richmond Park Academy and Burlington Danes Academy students this term on a Listen Live! project. These projects are designed to give young people direct access to Aurora’s concerts and explore all that it means to put on a concert to a professional standard.

Aurora presents a series of concerts each year in which every programme features a collaboration with a different art form, using an underpinning theme to thread together eclectic music and ignite dialogue.

Challenging the idea that young people are best served by specially-tailored ‘educational concerts’, Aurora has used Listen Live! to bring secondary school students to the front line of its artistic activity. At the start of this project, 50 students in years 7 to 11 from both schools attended an Aurora performance at Wathen Hall in Hammersmith. Aurora’s concert was called Thriller and was a collaboration with a horror writer and theatre director. Having come to the concert and shared thoughts about it students have taken the same theme of horror and created their own concert combining music with theate and the written word.

Working with director Hazel Gould, music director Jessie Maryon-Davies and 4 Aurora principal players, students have written chosen a story, written a script, chosen and composed music and then learnt and rehearsed al these elements. A small group of students from year 11 at Richmond Park Academy have taken on the role of curators for the project and so have been responsible for the overall shape of the performance throughout the process. The final show involves all participants from both schools performing together, alongside Aurora’s creative team."

Students performed in Hertford Hall and at Burlington Danes to much acclaim from the audience who were delighted by the standard of our performers and the quality of the production. RPA led the way throughout the complex, thought-provoking piece. Afterwards, Hazel told me how much she had enjoyed working with our students and how she hoped that another project could be done with RPA. This work  with St Paul's is one of a number of initiatives described in a paper that the Schools Network has asked me and Tom Tailor (from St Paul's) to submit for publication; details will follow if it is accepted.


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