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The Fairy Queen Revisited - Project with OAE, Beverley, 20 - 24 May 2013



The highlight of the 2013 Beverley & East Riding Festival for pupils, parents, school governors and audiences alike was the residency of members of the acclaimed Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) in Beverley Grammar and Girls' High Schools which was planned in the spring of 2012, and culminated in a week-long residency as part of the Festival. Mixing the music of 18th century English composer Henry Purcell with work on Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' the project concluded with a public performance at St Mary's Church on Thursday 23rd led by composer James Redwood and involving over 100 musicians in total.
 
The aims of this project were to:
  • To introduce pupils of Beverley Grammar School and Beverley Girls High School to the music of England's foremost Baroque composer, Henry Purcell, in an imaginative and practical way - focusing on his semi-opera, The Fairy Queen.
  • To give the participants the chance to work with some of the country's leading exponents of baroque music and a highly skilled composer.
  • To give the participants the opportunity to develop skills in creative writing and musical composition.
  • To give the participants the chance to give a public performance of their own songs and the music of Purcell, incorporating dance and drama into their performance.
  • To give students from the University of York the opportunity to develop leadership skills and performing skills by working alongside the composer James Redwood and members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
 
During the residency in Beverley, the composer and orchestra members were joined by students from the University of York's Music Education Group (MEG). These students have a particular interest in music in education and are keen to develop their skills as educators and workshop leaders. In advance of the residency, the OAE workshop leaders led a training day for the MEG students, teaching workshop-leading techniques and suggesting ways to guide young people in their own song writing. Rebecca Hart, Chair of the MEG, said of the experience: "From beginning to end the project was truly inspirational! Each day James and the team worked incredibly hard with the children to encourage and capture creative ideas. MEG were involved in this process amongst the children working with small groups to create a section of a song, lead an instrumental section or take part in the warm up activities. James and the team were so accommodating of the MEG students and so we always felt like our role was just as important as theirs. There were so many opportunities for us to learn new skills and get involved with both teaching and playing. It was such a privilege to be amongst such talented and genuine people and we hope to work with them all again in the future. "
 
Zoe Hughes, Head of Music at Beverley Grammar School said, "Working with the NCEM, the OAE and York University was an exciting prospect for the students of Beverley Grammar School. We were thrilled to be part of such a large project which culminated in an amazingly strong performance. Work like this is a great opportunity for students to build skills and knowledge, as well as giving them a chance to work with other students and professionals on musical composition and performance. It was great to perform in St Mary's too, bringing Beverley Grammar Schools' musical talents to the community."
 
Musicians involved included:
 
James Redwood animateur/composer
Hetty Wayne violin
Cherry Forbes oboe
Cecelia Bruggemeyer double bass
Robert Howarth harpsichord
University of York Baroque Ensemble
Chamber Choir and Music Education Group
Beverley Grammar School directed by Zoe Hughes
Beverley Girls' High School directed by Sarah Ward