Review by Luca Kerrison, a student at East Norfolk Sixth Form.

On Thursday 14th October I had the privilege of going to a concert for schools at St. Nicholas Minster as part of Create Yarmouth’s Young Promoters scheme. 

Create Yarmouth itself is a scheme run by the national producer and music charity Orchestras Live in partnership with multiple Norfolk based cultural and creative thinking organisations and charities. Orchestras Live is all about bringing orchestral music from the country’s greatest orchestras to every corner of the country with the purpose of inspiring people.

Stuart Bruce, Senior Creative Producer at Orchestras Live and the project lead for Create Yarmouth, said of the even:

“I hope it’s inspired many of them [the audience] to think ‘I want to be creative; I want to be musical, and I want to kick on from where I am.’” Commenting on the opportunities it provides the children in the audience, a representative for Cobholm Primary Academy said, “The children from Cobholm don’t get the opportunity to see things like this so it’s a really lovely experience for our school.”

My first thoughts upon arrival were how big the Minster was and how the acoustics might change based on your distance from the orchestra. I inspected the instruments themselves and was greeted by the largest ensemble of glockenspiels I’ve ever seen as well as a group of instruments I was unfamiliar with, which I found out later was an Indonesian gamelan. Soon after the schools arrived the performance was ready to start, featuring compositions, mainly 20th century, by João Domingos Bomtempo; Lowestoft-born Benjamin Britten; Grazyna Bacewicz; Ralph Vaughan Williams and Bela Bartok. Each piece was played beautifully by the London Mozart Players and the strings never ceased to take my breath away. Each song was a thrilling blend of staccato and legato, and the first time the violinists swapped to plucking in Bomtempo’s ‘Symphony no. 2, 3rd movement’ felt exhilarating. The piece that I enjoyed the most was Vaughan Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’ with its subtle, minimalist pentatonic harmonies reminiscent of a far eastern composition, all the sounds in this piece really give the image of a lark taking flight.

Young musicians from local schools joined the London Mozart Players for Bartok’s ‘Romanian Dances’ and managed to keep up quite well. This was made even more impressive to me after finding out – after interviewing some of the students who performed – some of them had only been playing their instruments for a month or two. These students were of various ages and were all from Lynn Grove Academy, Woodlands Primary Academy, Caister Academy or Wroughton Primary Academy. A student performer from Lynn Grove said, “It was very exciting and is a good thing to take part in.”

The last thing I would like to discuss is the new vibrant piece ‘Journey; home’ created by the students and pieced together by the music leader Sarah Freestone. This composition was inspired by the different cultures that make up Yarmouth, one of these inclusions I noticed was the use of contemporary guitars and brass for an Iberian sound, giving note to the prominent Portuguese community in the area. There were also percussive bell tones to represent the Dutch carillon bells, which were brought by settlers to Great Yarmouth. Another amazing thing about this performance is the London Mozart Players were playing it for the first time live to the audience and didn’t miss a beat, and the students made a quite advanced composition which they performed really well. Sarah Freestone commented on the inclusion of cultures with, “We wanted our musical influences to reflect the population living in Yarmouth now and I hadn’t heard a lot of the music from Lithuania or Portugal so it was really nice to listen to those composers.”

Create Yarmouth was supported by Arts Council England, Norfolk County Council and Enjoy Cultural Education Partnership.