News and Reviews
News: New Project Combines Folk and Classical Music
April 25 2012
Pupils from Cromford Primary School, which was founded in 1832 by the Arkwright family to educate the children of mill workers, will be among the 180 young people taking part in an innovative project to bring Derbyshire's industrial heritage to life through music.
The Oh How That Valley Did Change project is a collaboration between Derby-based Sinfonia Viva orchestra, Derbyshire-based Mills and Chimneys folk ensemble and Derbyshire poet laureate Matt Black. It has brought together pupils from Cromford and Crich Carr primary schools, Beckett and Griffe Field primary schools in Derby and music students from Belper and Murray Park secondary schools.
After visiting Masson and Cromford Mills in the World Heritage Site, the young people have written poems about the county's industrial heritage which have been the inspiration for a series of songs – some written by the children and some written and composed by Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black and Viva composer Jack Ross. The songs will be performed by a mass choir of primary school children accompanied by Sinfonia Viva, Mills and Chimneys folk group and musicians from the two secondary schools at the Derby Assembly Rooms on Wednesday June 13 at 7.00pm.
Viva Education Manager Keith Stubbs explained: "The Mills and Chimneys project is inspired by the story-telling power of folk music and the county's industrial heritage and is designed to help the young people to learn more about what life would have been like to work in the 18th century mills and voice their thoughts about life in those times. We are particularly pleased to have the pupils from Cromford whose school was first established for the children of mill workers and who have been able to compare their own lives with that of children more than 150 years ago."
Cromford Primary School Headteacher Mrs Elizabeth Foster continued: "We jumped at the chance of being involved in this project as it enables the children to learn more about their local heritage, be involved in the local community and be part of a musical project which is so important to their overall education. All of our 19 junior school children aged seven to 11 are taking part and are thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. The chance to perform alongside professional musicians is particularly exciting and we are very much looking forward to the concert at the Assembly Rooms."
The collaboration between Viva and Mills and Chimneys folk group started last year to bring together the two different genres of music and write new music that was performed at Derby Folk Festival in October.
Viva's Jack Ross, who has won national acclaim for his composing work with the Orchestra, explained: "This is a very exciting and unusual project as folk and classical musicians never usually get the chance to work together. Although both genres of music are very different, folk music has been the inspiration for many classical composers over the centuries and it is the similarities and synergies that we will be exploring through this project. Having worked so closely together for Derby Folk Festival we are thoroughly enjoying the next stage of this collaboration to harness the creativity, imagination and raw talent of local school pupils who are composing and performing their own pieces."
Fleet Arts have been involved with the Mills and Chimneys project since its emergence as part of the Derbyshire Literature Festival and the collective includes some musicians who have worked for or used the Fleet Arts facilities for many years.
Julian Butt, who is part of the six-strong Mills and Chimneys ensemble, continued: "It's really exciting that this project has lead to the collaboration and with such a long established organisation such as Sinfonia Viva. I have worked with Viva through Fleet Arts before and it was a fantastic experience so we are very excited about this collaboration. Mills and Chimneys brings together musicians from all sorts of backgrounds and it is great to be developing the scope of our work alongside the Viva players and taking out the work first started during the Derbyshire Literature Festival to involve and inspire more young people with songs and stories from the county."
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