This year’s CASMA performances celebrated 100 years of the Forestry Commission with a programme themed around woodland and environmental sustainability.

CASMA (Central Area Schools’ Music Association) is an annual choral event for primary schools, established over 30 years ago. The aim of CASMA is to offer school choirs something beyond the general music obtainable in primary schools by engaging a specialist guest conductor and performing a quality venue in Norwich. As well as training for young singers, teachers also benefit from guidance to extend their music offer in schools.

This year, primary and infant school pupils came together to celebrate 100 years of forestry through music and song! In April and May, hundreds of pupils from 22 primary and junior schools took part in rehearsals and performances across three dates at The Salvation Army Citadel in Norwich. This year, KS1 groups were also invited to take part in a morning event, which featured an original piece by local composer Tony Bailey, and the performance was weaved together magically by storyteller Liam Carroll.

Led by guest conductor, Ula Weber, the KS2 performances featured young ukulele players from schools and a brilliant orchestra made up of advanced musicians from Norfolk Music Service ensembles who accompanied the massed choirs. Four pieces were expertly arranged by young composers especially for the CASMA performances; Christopher Brooke, Emily Crook, Evie Hinchliffe, and James O’Donnell.

“I honestly did not stop smiling from beginning to end. The enthusiasm for singing was amazing and so was the standard.” – Parent

This year, CASMA was presented in association with Music for Youth as part of the national MFY Local Events Network. An MFY Music Mentor attended each event and provided constructive feedback on all performances to teachers and young people to assist further development. One Music Mentor was astounded at the quality of the performances after such short rehearsal time. She said:

“One word, WOW! Absolutely brilliant stuff…To be able to play and perform live music is so, so important. It will set you in great stead for anything you want to do in the rest of your lives.”

“I am utterly inspired by what the Music Service and Music Hub is doing, but also about the concentration, focus, dedication and enjoyment that all the young people put in, both singing and playing; it truly is inspiring!”

All of the children who took part in the massed choirs have also been invited to take part in the MFY National Festival in Birmingham in July!

The schools involved in this project were:

Attleborough Primary School
Buxton Primary School
Chapel Break Infant School
Costessey Junior School
Drayton Junior School
East Harling Primary School
Eaton Primary School
Fakenham Junior School
Great Dunham Primary School
Great Witchingham Primary School
Gresham Village School
Morley Primary School
Poringland Primary School
Seething and Mundham Primary School
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School
St William’s Primary School
Stoke Holy Cross Primary School
Tacolneston Primary School
Wreningham Primary School

The Forestry Commission
In September 1919 the Forestry Commission was founded to restore the nation’s woods and forests following the First World War and now looks after over 1,500 forests. The Forestry Commission helps make woodlands more productive, better for wildlife, and prepared for the challenges of a changing climate.

The venue was decorated with many colourful leaves, each with a pupils’ pledge for how they will make the world a better place.