Thursday, 2 March 2006

The Wind on the Moor

Diane Benn writes:
Primary school children from four Bradford schools are gearing up for the performance of a lifetime when they perform their very own Brontë Opera at Haworth church on Thursday 30 March 2006 at 1.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. in front of an invited audience.

The opera, entitled The Wind on the Moor is the result of a nine month project managed by the Parsonage in partnership with Operahouse, an organisation comprising a team of established professionals who offer music based creative projects for primary schools across the country.

The opera project, which has been made possible with funding from the Arts Council, Yorkshire Museums Libraries and Archives Council and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is based on the early lives of the Brontës, in particular their childhoods. Children have taken part in various activities focusing on the Parsonage, its collection, the village of Haworth and the surrounding landscape. They were encouraged to explore the Brontë story and respond to it, imaginatively, emotionally, and creatively through musical composition, writing and singing, dance, drama and mime.

Taking part in the project are Frizinghall Primary School in Bradford, Myrtle Park Primary School in Bingley, Lees Primary School in Haworth and Margaret McMillan Primary School in Bradford.  

Virginia Rushton, Project Director and Operahouse Artistic Director, said the process had been "...exhilarating and exhausting! The journey from blank page to performance is always exciting for a composer, but on this project we have had 120 young composer-performers and their teachers so we are off the scale in terms of excitement!"

She added, "As the journey has progressed, it has gathered pace and is now racing towards the premiere. Harnessing all the energy and ideas, keeping the creative process on track, supporting the class teachers as they came to grips with techniques for writing songs, and simply managing such a large group of children has been a challenge. But we knew what we were aiming for, and I think we have achieved something unique for each of us and for our audience"

Andrew McCarthy, Audience Development Manager at the Parsonage, said, "We have focused on the Brontë experience of childhood in Haworth and the contrast between this industrial village in which they grew up and the extraordinary imaginary worlds they created in their early writing... The children and teachers involved have enjoyed themselves immensely and have totally engaged with the project. They are looking forward to the final performance on 30 March with much anticipation!"

The team of professionals who have guided the children throughout the project with Andrew McCarthy are:

Alison Prince - renowned author who created Trumpton and The Sherwood Hero and who has won many children's literary awards for her work on over 40 books

Virginia Rushton -  Project Director and the founder of the Operahouse organisation in London

Mark Robinson - Musical Director who has worked extensively with the Northern Sinfonia, London Festival Orchestra and is a Fellow in Music at the University of Bradford

Andrew Keeling - composer who has worked with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropole Orchestra of Amsterdam and whose work has been performed and broadcast throughout the world.

Final rehearsals for the performance were held at West Lane Baptist Chapel in Haworth on Wednesday 1 March 2006 where pupils perfected their new found skills and put the finishing touches to their production.

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