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West Cheshire Schools join the prestigious Manchester Camerata Orchestra for a celebratory concert

29th March 2022

Over 60 young people across schools in west Cheshire have enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience, watching the prestigious Manchester Camerata Orchestra perform live music they themselves have composed.

Thanks to funding from Edsential and Arts Council England, the ‘Hidden Histories’ project has seen activist and musician, Lavender Rodriguez lead sessions with Year 9 and 10 pupils from secondary schools across the borough to explore the rich, diverse tapestry of classical music. The project is dedicated to celebrating the forgotten history of underrepresented composers of the past who were overlooked due to their ethnic background, with the concert being the culmination of their composition and music-making over the school term.

Edsential’s Music Hub Co-Ordinator, Catherine Singleton said

“We are delighted to be able to support and facilitate the Hidden Histories project. This is the second year that we have supported this project and the feedback has been wonderful. Music teachers have seen an increase in students using specialist music vocabulary in lessons, increased confidence when composing, gaining more knowledge about orchestral instruments and an increased interest in different genres. Being able to work with a composer and professional musicians to create original pieces of work and then having that music performed by members of a renowned orchestra is an incredibly special experience. We are so pleased to be able to give our schools the opportunity to involve their pupils in this awe-inspiring experience.”

Lizzie Hoskin, Head of Community at Manchester Camerata said “Diversity is a huge barrier to overcome in classical music, especially when it comes to the school curriculum. The fact that we can actually help influence what’s happening in schools (and pupils) in our local area is amazing!”

Over 70 guests attended the event, including representatives from Edsential, Manchester Camerata and members of Schools’ Senior leadership across the borough. The project has proven to be invaluable to the schools, with fantastic feedback from all the schools taking part. Clare Thompson, Head of Music at Upton-by-Chester High School said  “The impact has been phenomenal. I think it’s boosted students’ confidence a great deal. It’s allowed them to see that they can compose, because I think for a lot of students, composition is either a can or can’t do it, and it’s the same in a way for a lot of musicians. Breaking down those elements has reassured them that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer, but in fact all their ideas can be incorporated and further developed.”

One of the students from Upton-by-Chester High School taking part said

“It’s not every day you get a lot of professionals, like composers and musicians, to come in and help you with your music. And I think that’s really helped with the way that I see music because working with people who do it for a job, they can tell you a lot more about it than just doing your own stuff.”

Edsential Musical Routes are committed to giving young people inspiring and aspirational musical opportunities which will help to enhance students’ education. By forming partnerships with organisations like Manchester Camerata and others alike Edsential can broaden the range of opportunities offered to its students and help diversify their knowledge and experiences.

Videos of the Manchester Camerata Hidden Histories Concert are available to watch below: