ESO SCHOOLS’ PROGRAMME
Our first Childrens’ Concert was in 2002. It took the form of performing music such as Peter and the Wolf and the Toy Symphony to children from local primary schools.
Other concerts followed, and took on a new format in 2012 when we worked with a group of schools including Little Waltham and Newlands Spring. Concerts became more interactive, with a facilitator or our conductor explaining the story behind the music and what the orchestra was doing. Some children got to volunteer to use our props and act out various roles. In 2012 we also had children from the Gifted & Talented registers to play in the orchestra.
In 2019, the format changed again and in this year we held our first Young People’s Orchestral Workshop. We invited young instrumentalists from all the primary and secondary schools in Chelmsford and the surrounding area to come and join us at St John Payne School, playing alongside our members to rehearse and perform some fantastic music.
We have found that to help schools participate we need to obtain sponsorship specifically for the concert. In 2007, Making Music generously provided funding and we were especially fortunate that the finance group M&G contributed substantial funding to the orchestra’s childrens’ concerts from the very beginning until 2019 as part of their community sponsorship programme.
YOUNG PEOPLES’ WORKSHOPS
Our 2nd Young Peoples’ Orchestral Workshop took place on Sunday 2nd February 2020 at St John Payne Catholic School in Chelmsford.
We had two sessions: in the morning a group of youngsters of Grade 1-3 ability, watched by parents and other family members, rehearsed and played ‘Toreador’ from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and the 2nd movement of Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony; and in the afternoon more experienced players of Grade 4-5 standard played ‘Mars’ from Holst’s ‘Planet Suite’ and Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’. We used the simplified arrangements produced by the BBC for their ‘Ten Pieces’ aimed at opening up the world of classical music to 7-14 year olds.
Both sessions were conducted by the ESO’s new professional conductor, Robert Hodge, who got adults and children alike to warm up with fun exercises and musical counting challenges before tackling the pieces themselves.