The Queen’s Hall has a commitment to provide creative learning and community projects and we’re delighted to partner with Love Music to present On This, A Winter’s Night on Monday 3 December.
We talked to Stephen Deazley, artistic director and co-founder of Love Music to find out more about the project and what audiences can expect on the night.
Previously, The Queen’s Hall has produced a participative project for primary schools called Carols from the Southside. Although this was very successful, we were keen to update and refresh it and, being big fans of Love Music, asked them what they could devise for us. They wanted to develop a programme that wasn’t entirely denominational and had a broader scope in terms of the type and genre of music included. As Stephen says, “We tried to produce a programme which still sat at the heart of ideas of Christmas in terms of its spirituality and relationship to community - so opening your door and putting a light in your window, getting the family together. All those common things that are associated with the Christmas season but not necessarily be a Christmassy show.”
The result is a project involving 200 children from six primary schools who will perform alongside the Edinburgh folk/bluegrass duo, The Jellyman’s Daughter and four other professional musicians. Stephen says, “We really like the idea of scale and things done en masse so if you’ve got 200 children I’m bound to programme quite a lot for them to do together! The schools will come together and sing, but there are little spotlight moments where the schools will be presenting their own works, something they’ve been learning just for themselves.”
Music has been sourced from France, the USA, Canada, Sweden, England and Scotland. In fact, the most Christmassy song to be included is an Arabic carol from the Lebanon, which Stephen came across in his research. This has been transcribed phonetically and will be performed by Broughton Primary School, which has a few Arabic-speaking children in their primary 6 class. The “world travelling eclectic mix” of music is something we’re very excited about – looking out from Scotland at this moment in time seems particularly pertinent.
(Stephen Deazley, Love Music)
“I think it’s essential that children get to perform in a space like The Queen’s Hall. Just in terms of the space and the opportunity to be here I think it’s important, it just says to them ‘you’re worth this’. They become two feet taller. They belong here. That idea that you belong here as much as anyone else, as much as all the great artists who’ve come through this building, I think that’s really important and the children will be much more likely to continue a relationship with The Queen’s Hall if they’ve played on that stage.”
Martin Riley, a writer based in the north of England, has been commissioned to create a spoken word piece that all the children will be contributing to, by giving him their thoughts and ideas about winter on special postcards.
Finally, there is “a theatrical element tied round the idea of lanterns and light and stars because it is a Christmas show” says Stephen. A lantern artist (Hilary Matthews) has been working with Love Music and the schools and at one point there will be 100 stars lighting up the inside of The Queen’s Hall. We think that by this point there won’t be a dry eye in the house!
The whole project is guided by Love Music, as Stephen explains, “We’ve created audio files for the schools. The Jellyman’s Daughter recorded all the songs and we’ve created singing resources and lyric sheets and the performance context. I introduce all of the material in three workshops and then we provide the teachers with materials to continue to work with. We then bring Emily and Graham from The Jellyman’s Daughter in to the school as our last visit so they begin to get a sense of the professional performance context. There’s plenty for them to do, lots of lanterns to make, lots of songs to learn. It’s all going on. We’re really excited by it.”
Inclusivity is at the heart of everything Love Music does, with their mission statement being to “inspire and empower people to be curious, creative and adventurous with music, regardless of their skill base or background, raising aspirations and changing lives”. With this in mind, they were very excited when Oaklands School, a school for children with multiple and complex physical needs asked to be a part of the project. Most of the children are more or less non-verbal in terms of spoken language so Stephen had a long discussion with the music teacher at the school about the fact that this was essentially a singing project. “I was very nervous about that because we’d never done anything as dynamic as that in terms of how we could break it apart and make it inclusive, but it does say in our mission statement that regardless of your skill and ability and experience we’ll try and do something. So that’s what we’re trying to do and it’s actually going really, really well.” Seven children from the upper primary stream are taking part and will have the opportunity to be with their peers from other schools, celebrate their contribution to the event and perform for an audience in The Queen’s Hall.
On This, A Winter’s Night, Monday 3 December. Tickets available here.
About Love Music
Stephen Deazley is the artistic director and co-founder of Love Music which creates and produces a portfolio of adventurous participatory projects and new music through which young people and communities can come together with musicians in a professional setting and participate in inspirational music making.
About The Queen's Hall Creative Learning and Community Projects
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