RSNO’s recent North East community project serves as benchmark for success

A community music project involving participants from the North East of Scotland will be used as a benchmark for success by Scotland’s national symphony orchestra.

Over eight months, enthusiastic participants of all ages and abilities collaborated with British composer Cecilia McDowall, writer Alan Spence and musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) in producing a substantial work for chorus and orchestra. The resulting composition, Northlight, took its inspiration from the geography and communities of the North East of Scotland.

This was the first project of its kind to be seen in the UK, where multiple local community groups were mobilised to contribute to the composition and subsequent performance of a major orchestral commission. Groups involved in the project included St Fergus School, St Fergus; Inspire Choir, Banff; Aurora (formerly North Aberdeenshire Community Choir), Huntly; Aberdeen Youth Choir, Aberdeen; The Burns Quoir (including members of the Junior Burns Project); Tullos Primary School, Aberdeen; and staff from TOTAL E&P UK Ltd.

The work was performed by a combined Community Chorus comprising people who contributed to the composition, along with members of the RSNO Chorus and the RSNO at the Music Hall, Aberdeen on Thursday 6 October 2011. Now the project will be used by Scotland’s national orchestra as a successful example of how arts organisations and local communities can come together in a meaningful way to produce long-lasting legacies.

Director of Education and Community Partnerships, Ellen Thomson: “It was a huge privilege for the RSNO to run the Northlight project. We set out to take the inspirational experiences of live music making to the North East and to celebrate this with a full-scale orchestral concert with opportunities for people to take part regardless of their musical experiences. The commitment given to the project by individuals combined with the enthusiasm of all the choirs was a joy to see.  We are looking forward to sharing the success of our work and the challenges we overcame throughout this eight-month project.”

Jayne Carmichael Norrie: “I cannot overestimate how instrumental the Northlight project was in the musical development of the children in my choir.  Their enthusiasm, appreciation and confidence is sky high!  Performing in a concert doesn’t seem to phase them that much anymore, as they have already played with some of the best musicians in the world.

“To think that when we started a majority of the children in my choir had never heard a live orchestra and they came en masse to support their RSNO friends at their recent performance of Sibelius 5 is something that makes me very proud of my choir and very grateful to the RSNO.”

Joss Atkin, Head Teacher of Tullos Primary School: “The Primary children really engaged with the project. It gave them the opportunity to be creative and original. I think they really enjoyed working as a team but also taking guidance from the professionals. The opportunity to work with other groups helped raise the profile of classical music within these communities.”

Ruth MacKenzie, Head Teacher, St Fergus Primary School: “Through Curriculum for Excellence, pupils are entitled to opportunities to achieve the highest levels they can, with support and challenge to allow them to do this. All pupils in the senior class at St. Fergus School were involved in this project from the outset, being supported by highly skilled musicians from the RSNO who listened to their ideas, teased them out and fed them back so pupils could raise their contribution to a higher standard. Their public performance offered them a unique opportunity to perform live with professional musicians, where they were supported by a large turnout of family members.

“Participating in this project was quite inspirational and we’d love to do something similar again. It really was a community project.”

The project was made possible through the generous support of TOTAL E&P UK Limited and in conjunction with Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council.

Photo Tom Finnie

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Published On: Tue, Dec 13th, 2011 at 12:12pm

Northlight brightens the way for future music making

RSNO’s recent North East community project serves as benchmark for success

A community music project involving participants from the North East of Scotland will be used as a benchmark for success by Scotland’s national symphony orchestra.

Over eight months, enthusiastic participants of all ages and abilities collaborated with British composer Cecilia McDowall, writer Alan Spence and musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) in producing a substantial work for chorus and orchestra. The resulting composition, Northlight, took its inspiration from the geography and communities of the North East of Scotland.

This was the first project of its kind to be seen in the UK, where multiple local community groups were mobilised to contribute to the composition and subsequent performance of a major orchestral commission. Groups involved in the project included St Fergus School, St Fergus; Inspire Choir, Banff; Aurora (formerly North Aberdeenshire Community Choir), Huntly; Aberdeen Youth Choir, Aberdeen; The Burns Quoir (including members of the Junior Burns Project); Tullos Primary School, Aberdeen; and staff from TOTAL E&P UK Ltd.

The work was performed by a combined Community Chorus comprising people who contributed to the composition, along with members of the RSNO Chorus and the RSNO at the Music Hall, Aberdeen on Thursday 6 October 2011. Now the project will be used by Scotland’s national orchestra as a successful example of how arts organisations and local communities can come together in a meaningful way to produce long-lasting legacies.

Director of Education and Community Partnerships, Ellen Thomson: “It was a huge privilege for the RSNO to run the Northlight project. We set out to take the inspirational experiences of live music making to the North East and to celebrate this with a full-scale orchestral concert with opportunities for people to take part regardless of their musical experiences. The commitment given to the project by individuals combined with the enthusiasm of all the choirs was a joy to see.  We are looking forward to sharing the success of our work and the challenges we overcame throughout this eight-month project.”

Jayne Carmichael Norrie: “I cannot overestimate how instrumental the Northlight project was in the musical development of the children in my choir.  Their enthusiasm, appreciation and confidence is sky high!  Performing in a concert doesn’t seem to phase them that much anymore, as they have already played with some of the best musicians in the world.

“To think that when we started a majority of the children in my choir had never heard a live orchestra and they came en masse to support their RSNO friends at their recent performance of Sibelius 5 is something that makes me very proud of my choir and very grateful to the RSNO.”

Joss Atkin, Head Teacher of Tullos Primary School: “The Primary children really engaged with the project. It gave them the opportunity to be creative and original. I think they really enjoyed working as a team but also taking guidance from the professionals. The opportunity to work with other groups helped raise the profile of classical music within these communities.”

Ruth MacKenzie, Head Teacher, St Fergus Primary School: “Through Curriculum for Excellence, pupils are entitled to opportunities to achieve the highest levels they can, with support and challenge to allow them to do this. All pupils in the senior class at St. Fergus School were involved in this project from the outset, being supported by highly skilled musicians from the RSNO who listened to their ideas, teased them out and fed them back so pupils could raise their contribution to a higher standard. Their public performance offered them a unique opportunity to perform live with professional musicians, where they were supported by a large turnout of family members.

“Participating in this project was quite inspirational and we’d love to do something similar again. It really was a community project.”

The project was made possible through the generous support of TOTAL E&P UK Limited and in conjunction with Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council.

Photo Tom Finnie

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