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Imagine:Whittlesey Concert celebration

© Alex McElroy
Imagine:Whittlesey Full Cast, Photo by Alex McElroy

On Saturday, 18 March 2017, Whittlesey witnessed the Imagine: Whittlesey concert at the Sir Harry Smith Community College. The audience experienced a marvellous performance given by over 90 young people, local players and musicians from the Grand Union Orchestra. Over the last two months, young musicians from Coates Primary School, Park Lane Primary School, and Sir Harry Smith Community College, as well as local adult musicians, worked closely with Grand Union Orchestra to practise and learn music from around the world. On the night, students played their new pieces on classical instruments and danced to new rhythms and sounds, revealing music from around the globe.

The concert was the finale of a two-month project organised by Market Place working in partnership with 20Twenty Productions and Cambridgeshire Music Partnership

Grand Union Orchestra Project Leader, Shanti Jayasinha said,

It’s evenings like this that remind me how amazing it is to create musical experiences with young people – all of the children from Park Lane, Coates and Sir Harry Smith schools gave 100 per cent in the performance and achieved more than I could have imagined. They improvised on an Indian raag, played African drums, Reggae, Brazilian Samba, Bhangra and sung their hearts out – even encouraging the audience to try and match them. It was a truly memorable event.

Teacher from Park Lane Primary School, Sue Bradshaw said,

What an amazing, inspirational experience for all of our Whittlesey young people to be able to perform alongside professional musicians from the Grand Union Orchestra. The atmosphere was electric on Saturday evening as parents and members of the community joined us in a celebration of world music. Our musicians have developed their skills in musical improvisation as well as their confidence by working alongside nurturing, talented musicians. This whole experience has been highly motivating for all students involved.

Deputy Head of Cambridgeshire Music Partnership, Lin Hetherington said,

I was delighted to overhear enthusiastic parents in the audience and felt so proud of the whole project. It is amazing what can be achieved in such a short space of time and I was impressed with how the dedicated staff from the schools involved were willing to give up their time to support music in school. How lovely to have some members of the community involved too.

Market Place Programme Manager, Catherine Mummery said,

This project was all about bringing people together to share and learn about different music traditions from around the world through workshops and performance. Whittlesey is well known for the Straw Bear Festival and I particularly enjoyed the number that merged the Straw Bear dance with a South African township tune. Finding what unites us and creating a celebratory event, unique in a particular place, is integral to the Market Place approach as a Creative People and Places project.

Principal of Sir Harry’s Smith, Dawn White said,

The concert was a motivating and inspiring event which has given the young people of Whittlesey the opportunity to engage with professional musicians and to embrace and celebrate music from a diverse range of cultures. My sincere thanks to the Grand Union Orchestra and congratulations to all those involved!

Please explore more photos from the event by Alex McElroy and read some of the testimonials from participants.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE PERFORMANCE FOR ME WAS:

Listening to all of the different instruments and watching my sister perform — Cairney

Kids enjoying music of other cultures — Thompson

The music and the multicultural aspect especially in Whittlesey — Karen

The freedom and accessibility of the music — Anonymous

Being introduced to new music and seeing the children perform alongside professionals  — Green