King Edward's Music

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Category: musical ideas

Peter and the Firebird – A Birmingham Schools Spectacular

Peter and the Firebird – A Birmingham Schools Spectacular

Some projects are a long time in the making, but often all the more satisfying because of it. Earlier this week I was in Birmingham for the culmination of a glorious, ambitious, beautiful project, hosted by King Edward School and their music teacher/conductor Dr Martin Leigh, music teacher Keith Farr, and embracing seven other schools in the Birmingham area.

With the idea of using story and art in music as an aid to inspire primary school children to compose their own music, I helped develop a book for schools, “Exploring Music through Stories”, full of useful teaching notes. Meanwhile Martin and Keith were actively involved in working directly with schools and teachers to encourage the children to create something wonderful – and they did!

They should be named: Hallmoor (who presented – and charmingly acted – songs from Hansel and Gretel); Bourneville and Tiverton (who offered a fresh look at Peter and the Wolf); Brownmead (who conjured the witch Baba Yaga with a beautifully slavic sounding song); The Oval (I loved their midnight clock for Cinderella!); Elms Farm (Their “Snegurochka” song touched the heart in their version of The Snow Maiden) and Hillstone (who brilliantly used percussion and all kinds of unusual sounds to share the underwater world of Sadko – amazing!). Huge congratulations to them all – it was truly wonderful to witness! all the children, shining with pride and achievement!

Afterwards, in keeping with the Russian Fairy Tale theme, I narrated and illustrated the original version of Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, plus a couple of extracts from Stravinsky’s Firebird, with the KES symphony orchestra, who played superbly.

But that wasn’t all – there then followed an evening performance of Peter and the Wolf and the full 1919 suite from The Firebird. A pretty full day! For me, the challenge was to learn the narration for Peter and the Wolf and many complicated cues, by heart. As I was illustrating the tale simultaneously, at my easel, it wasn’t possible to use a score, so it all had to be firmly embedded in my memory. Happily I survived both times without mishap, and the lovely warm Birmingham audience made me most welcome.

My thanks to and admiration for Keith and Martin are boundless. The way Martin thanked every single student in the orchestra, as they left the stage, was utterly heartwarming. Also thanks to Sarah Mullen of the brilliant Busy Parents Network, who so ably supported this glorious, unforgettable event. One of the best I’ve ever been involved in.

I’m now looking forward to returning to Birmingham for several Busy Parent Network events at their Bournville Book Fest in March, including another concert, with Birmingham opera singer Abigail Kelly, an event full of art and arias as I accompany her singing with painting! You can find out more here:

https://www.jamesmayhew.co.uk/events/stories-from-the-opera

James Mayhew

James is the creator of the much-loved Katie and Ella Bella Ballerina series and many other books, including Koshka’s Tales, Miranda the Explorer and Boy. Alongside his work in publishing, James has devised and performs in a hugely successful series of concerts for children, combining live classical music, storytelling and art.

Peter & the Wolf: melting icy hearts

 

 

Peter & the Wolf: Elms Farm Primary School

Pupils from Elms Farm Primary School followed the story of Snow Maiden. These are just some of the chalk drawings they have created.

Peter & the Wolf: creating music together


 

 

Peter & the Wolf: Brownmead Academy

King Edward’s pupils and pupils from Brownmead Academy worked together to create some wonderful music.

Peter & the Wolf: magical world

 

 

Peter & the Wolf: The Oval Primary School  

Pupils from the Oval Primary School have recreated some of the Cinderella magic.

Peter & the Wolf: construction

 

 

 

Peter & the Wolf: Hallmoor School 

Hallmoor School students have immersed themselves into the world of Hensel and Gretel. They built some beautiful houses.

Peter & the Wolf: young artists

Peter & the Wolf: Hillstone Primary School

Pupils at Hillstone Primary School have created some truly marvellous paintings in readiness for their performance on 5 February.

Peter and the Wolf: pupils hard at work

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham -- Peter and the Wolf


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Peter and the Wolf

Peter & the Wolf: Bourville and Tiverton Primary Schools

Pupils at Bourville and Tiverton Primary schools are working very hard on their composition pieces to be performed on 5 February at the Ruddock Hall.

This is just the taster of the musical soundscape they created. We are all very excited to hear their live performance!

 

Peter and the Wolf and The Firebird

 


Peter & the Wolf and the Firebird
The Ruddock Hall
1800, Tuesday, 5 February 2019

There’s a very special event at King Edward’s next week. At 1800 on Tuesday, 5 February, KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra will perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, followed by the 1919 suite from Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Both works are highly colourful, paint vivid pictures of characters, tell stories of the imagination. Capitalising on this, we have invited James Mayhew, author, illustrator, and artist, to perform with us. He will narrate Peter, and, at the same time, paint pictures of the stories live with the music. It’s hard to describe, but, once seen, it’s an extra-ordinary experience, quite impossible to forget.

The performance lasts only for an hour, and the early start means that it’s a perfect evening for children of all ages.

Tickets, priced £5, are available at:

https://www.ruddockpac.co.uk

If you would like to come straight from school to the Ruddock Hall, we offer a children’s picnic tea at 1715. The combined price for tea and concert is £8.50.

It’s going to be a really special evening.

Peter and the Wolf workshop

 

 

Peter and the Wolf workshop

17 November 2018, Hillstone Primary School

The team behind the Peter and the Wolf project convened again at Hillstone Primary School last Thursday. They explored further the model for composition work and also introduced the visual part of the project. The workshop was led by James Mayhew and some truly outstanding masterpieces were created.

 

 

Exploring music through stories — Peter and the Wolf and The Firebird

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Peter and the Wolf Linocut by James Mayhew

New on this ‘blog, ‘Exploring music through stories — a composition project’.

Produced in partnership with seven primary, preparatory, and special schools, this proposes and will explore a model for the teaching of composition in primary schools.

A four-month-long project will run throughout Birmingham learning to a performance-day in February 2019. The schools will come together and share the stage with KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra; our compositions sharing a programme with works by Stravinsky and Prokofiev.

You can read more under the ‘Peter and the wolf‘ menu, at the top of this page.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Some advice from Itzhak Perlman

‘Practise slowly…’

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Some advice from Daniel Barenboim

‘hang on to the first note … and you fly with the music.’

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham