Furthering Talent students compose new piece of music during lockdown

During lockdown, children on our Furthering Talent programme in Brighton have been getting creative with the support of composer James Redwood. Together they’ve composed a new piece of music called Elixir of Hope, exploring how a magical elixir can transform darkness into hope and light.

Our Brighton programme runs across two primary schools: St John the Baptist, and Fairlight. The project was scheduled to take place in schools in March, but moved online when the spread of the Coronavirus led to nationwide school closures. Through videos and Zoom calls James has kept the project alive.

Elixir of Hope

Elixir of Hope is inspired by Donizetti’s opera, L’elisir d’amore, which we arranged for students to see live at Glyndebourne in 2019. The students offered their own musical ideas in response to the opera, which James incorporated into the score for all instrumental groups and abilities.

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.

“I was so delighted that we managed to find a way to continue this project after we had such an inspiring start at St John the Baptist school 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!” James Redwood.

After hearing the piece for the first time, Rosie – a Furthering Talent student and keyboard player – said:

I really liked the piece. It’s so soothing and gentle. But it also gets big and strong and bold. It made me so happy. I love it.

James during a past Furthering Talent workshop

Our Furthering Talent Co-ordinator in Brighton Natasha Gawlinski says: “It has been so amazing seeing how the pupils at the two primary schools have grown in confidence and musically during the last year of running the Furthering Talent programme. 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 lockdown 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.”

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