Brighton schoolchildren have written a new piece of music during lockdown, led by Brighton-based composer James Redwood. The work explores how a magical elixir can transform darkness into hope and light. They will perform the piece together in person when schools are reopened.
The project is run by UK charity Awards For Young Musicians (AYM) and features young musicians on its Furthering Talent programme at two Brighton primary schools: St John the Baptist, and Fairlight. The project was scheduled to take place in schools during March, but was forced online when the spread of the Coronavirus led to nationwide school closures.
“I was so delighted that we managed to find a way to continue this project,” says James Redwood. “We had such an inspiring start back in March. The music the young people created was too good to let it fall by the wayside and the fantastic new material created by the musicians at Fairlight provided the uplifting ending that the piece needed to complete its journey. I really hope the young musicians in both schools approve of the way in which I’ve joined their ideas together and I can’t wait to hear them playing it!”
The new piece of music is inspired by Donizetti’s opera, L’elisir d’amore, which AYM had arranged for students to see live at Glyndebourne in 2019. The students would offer their own musical ideas in response to the opera, which James would turn into a piece of music for all instrumental groups and abilities.
“It has been so amazing seeing how the pupils at the two primary schools have grown in confidence and musically during the last years,” says Natasha Gawlinski, Brighton’s Furthering Talent Coordinator. “We were determined to keep the project and music going throughout lockdown. The musical ideas from the children have been fantastic and it was quite emotional for me hearing the final piece that James has put together given the current situation of lock down and school closures. I look forward to seeing all the children and families in a zoom concert of this piece as well as hopefully in person whenever circumstances allows.” Rather poignantly, the particular aspect of the opera that students were asked to respond to was the idea that a potion or elixir could magically solve a character’s problems, transforming darkness and despair into hope and optimism. It seems particularly fitting, then, that they will perform this piece together in person, when schools are allowed to reopen in full and it is safe for them to meet once more.
Awards for Young Musicians recognises that talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t. Often obstacles like family finances too often get in the way. So, AYM create real impact by supporting young musicians from low income families and enabling better music education through training, advocacy and research.