Learn and Join In: favourite 2014 moments

The THSH Education, Community and Jazzlines Education teams reflect on some of the special moments this year.

What The Ladybird Heard (pictured, above)

Families mingle with the cast of What the Ladybird Heard in this photo from January 2014. We’ve been beating the January blues for several years with a free ticket offer to a THSH Christmas Season show for local schools and children’s centres as part of our Concerts2Kerbstones programme. In partnership with Friction Arts we delivered sessions in Ladywood children’s centres themed around Julia Donaldson’s popular story to give the families a taste of what to expect before their visit.

Image: Ming de Nasty

Symphony of Stories

30 Year 3 children from Summerfield Primary School perform in front of their school and parents in the finale of this composition & storytelling project, in February 2014. Children were invited to bring in their favourite objects from home which became stimulus for a new commission alongside a participatory performance. We worked with a fab creative team: National Storytelling Laureate Katrice Horsley, commissioned composer Bushra El Turk, Ensemble Zar and local artists Natalie Mason and Kirsty Devaney.

Image: Adrian Burrows

Pull Out All The Stops

We were invited to perform in the world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’ ‘A Wall of Music’, part of Southbank Centre’s Pull Out All the Stops Festival in March 2014. 30 children from City Road Primary Academy, Ladywood, are joined here on stage with schools from Manchester, Newcastle and London. We were extremely proud of how well they performed to a sold out Royal Festival Hall gala concert audience. And, in spite of the packed rehearsal schedule, we of course squeezed in an obligatory trip to see Big Ben! Thanks to Rebecca Ledgard for preparing the children so well in vocal rehearsals and to Alice Chesterman and the Southbank Centre team for having us. Thanks also to head teacher Jackie Gazeley for her on-going support and commitment and to the many hours she put aside to organise the trip.

Image: Rebecca Ledgard

Science of Sound

Our flagship organ education programme show, Science of Sound, delivered in partnership with Science Made Simple, looked and sounded even more awe-inspiring on stage this year with a brand new set by Acquismedia, animations from Chris Randall and soundscape from THSH Artist in Residence, Sam Underwood.

Image: Lyle Bignon for THSH

Town Hall History Hunt

A ‘detective’ enjoys playing the Town Hall organ following his class’s success finding organ pipes which were hidden around the building. Town Hall History Hunt is an interactive performance that enlists students and staff as special detectives who must delve deep into Birmingham’s past, interview colourful characters from its history and collect the clues to ensure the Town Hall organ is heard once more. Delivered in partnership with theatre collective Needless Allies and our THSH Organ Scholar.

Image: Kate Green

Stops & Stories

Symphony Hall gets turned into a spaceship when children from Brays School in Sheldon come to visit. Artists Pete Churchill and Mat Beckett led participatory music sessions in Brays School’s sensory room inspired by sampled sounds of the Symphony Hall organ and the school theme for the term, outer space. Here they get to see the organ itself, hear their own compositions recorded in school and get treated to a performance of that particularly otherworldly organ repertoire, Sprach Zarathustra.

Image: Lyle Bignon for THSH

Jazz Electives

Two young musicians from the THSH Jazz Electives Ensemble perform a specially commissioned jazz piece by award winning composer Mark Lockheart on the Symphony Hall stage. This strong, on-going partnership between Birmingham Music Service, THSH and local Ladywood schools, brought together a 250 strong Key Stage 2 ensemble led by Mark, with support from tutors, support artist Laura Jurd and the Jazzlines Trio. Listen to an excerpt from the piece.

Image: Ming de Nasty

Project SoundLounge

Backstage revelling at Project SoundLounge Festival 2014 – our flagship festival showcasing the best new music in Birmingham, programmed by young people, for young people. All of the hard work paid off and it was a fab weekend. From L-R: Ashley, Mohini (Project Manager – Community Engagement), Joe (current SoundLounge Fellow), Monty, Reuben (former SoundLounge Fellow).

Image: Micky F Photography

Jazzlines Summer School

In August 35 talented young musicians aged between 11 and 19 years old brought the foyer spaces in Symphony Hall to life by taking part in the third and this year expanded Jazzlines Summer School, run in partnership with Birmingham Conservatoire. From Monday to Friday they learnt about jazz and improvisation in ensemble based workshops before taking part in a showcase performance at the end of the week. The sessions were led by leading jazz professionals Percy Pursglove (trumpet and double bass), Sara Colman (vocalist and songwriter), Jeremy Price (trombone) and Hans Koller (piano) alongside a team of support musicians made up of students and recent graduates from Birmingham Conservatoire’s jazz degree course, as well as a number of special guest tutors; Shabaka Hutchings, Jean Toussaint, Nikki Illes, Nick Smart & Emilia Martensson.

Image: Iza Korsak

Musical Gardens

Musical Gardens was designed in conjunction with the centre’s parenting skills strand, and aimed at promoting the benefits of family-friendly outdoor activities through gardening and exploring sound. We combined outdoor live music performances by THSH artists with learning new gardening skills. This led to the creation of a brand new herb, vegetable and fruit garden in the centre’s courtyard. Equally prominent in the garden are musical features like wind chimes and a specially commissioned slap organ (pictured, above) by THSH Artist-in-Residence Sam Underwood. For readers wondering what a slap organ might be, this fantastic instrument features tubes which sound at different pitches when hit due to their varying lengths. Sam deliberately picked hollow tubes to collect raindrops in watering cans underneath each tube; a creative solution that ensured both music and nourishment!

Image: Ming de Nasty