Almost 280 Norfolk students staged two creative performances featuring music, stories and creative art at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome on Wednesday 27 June, to remember the challenges faced by Great Yarmouth’s residents in the First World War.
The Requiem project is a result of a seven-month creative partnership between Norfolk Museums Service, youngsters aged seven to 18 years from 15 local primary schools, high schools and further education colleges, and composer Sarah Freestone with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Chairman of Norfolk’s Joint Museums Committee, Councillor John Ward said: “These performances were the culmination of this unique collaboration of music, artwork, and spoken word which commemorated the stories of Great Yarmouth’s people during the First World War. Young people across the area have worked very hard, with support from a wide range of professionals, to put on a truly unique and engaging performance.”
Colin Stott, from the Norfolk Museums Service and Creative Collisions, said: “The Requiem project team are delighted with the response to the finale concerts. The atmosphere at the Hippodrome was electric, as local families watched their children perform alongside the world-class musicians of the BBC concert orchestra. The young people rose to the challenge magnificently creating a truly memorable experience. The music they helped to create with composer Sarah Freestone powerfully conveyed the drama of the First World War and the range of emotions that must have been felt by those who experienced it. Helen Wilson from the Heritage Lottery Fund described the project as ‘a brilliant example of radical heritage’, using innovative approaches to engage young people with this important aspect of our local and national history.”
Led by Creative Collisions, this project marks the centenary of the First World War, was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Norfolk Music Hub and is a member of the Imperial War Museums Centenary Partnership.
Ideas for the show were researched and developed by the young people and an exhibition of their research toured the county in advance of the performances at Great Yarmouth’s iconic Hippodrome theatre.
As part of the research for the project, the students visited Time & Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth Library and Norfolk Archive Centre. They worked with museum experts to turn their research into information panels for the touring exhibition.
The project steering group included students from Cliff Park Ormiston Academy, Benjamin Britten High School, Ormiston Victory Academy and East Norfolk Sixth Form. Students from East Norfolk Sixth Form and East Coast College worked with a professional illustrator to create around 40 visual projections reflecting the themes in the five movements of the Requiem.
Music students from Flegg High School, OVA, Charter Academy and Trafalgar Academy worked with composer Sarah Freestone to create key themes and phrases for the Requiem, played by local young musicians from Norfolk County Youth Orchestra alongside the 50-piece BBC Concert Orchestra.
The partnership with the Music Hub also enabled students to benefit from extra music lessons and provision of musical instruments for three Trafalgar pupils. The music students performed their compositions in the Hippodrome arena between the main Requiem movements.
Students from four of the schools worked with Shey Hargreaves from Norwich Writers Centre to create ‘spoken word’ pieces that were performed alongside the music and artwork.
Primary pupils from Ormiston Herman, Edward Worlledge, Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, Woodlands, St Mary & St Peter’s, St George’s and Northgate schools formed a massed choir of 196 children to lead the final movement of the Requiem, our Anthem of Hope.
All participating students got the opportunity to complete an Arts Award during the project.
The whole process was documented by film students from East Coast College and East Norfolk 6th Form, under the guidance of the brilliant BBC Voices team. This documentary will be made available online and produced as a DVD for every participant. A further legacy will be the composition of a Requiem Suite suitable for future performance by local youth orchestras. BBC Radio Norfolk and BBC Radio 3 filmed the performance to broadcast at a later date.
The BBC Concert Orchestra’s Andrew Connolly said: “From 2009’s Music Mix concerts at the Royal Norfolk Showground onwards, the BBC Concert Orchestra has given learning and outreach activity in Norfolk and Suffolk a high priority. Through Orchestras Live we have participated in and delivered a range of projects and so were delighted to be invited to take part in 2018’s Great Yarmouth Requiem. Returning to the wondrous Hippodrome and collaborating with such a range of young people from the community itself has been a thrill for us all.”
Stuart Bruce of Orchestras Live said: “Requiem is the latest in a growing number of site-specific creative projects instigated and co-produced by Orchestras Live. This was an opportunity for a large number of young people to work with world-class professionals from the BBC Concert Orchestra, resulting in a unique event celebrating Great Yarmouth and its rich history from World War One through present-day interpretations. The culmination of all the fabulous work was very moving and something of national significance.”
Brenda Seymour of Norfolk Music Hub said: “The project brought together the community of Great Yarmouth to commemorate the local impact of World War One. It created an opportunity for schools to use music as a tool for learning about historical events whilst performing alongside a world-class orchestra in a specially commissioned piece of music.”
Great Yarmouth Primary Academy
St Mary & St Peter’s
Cliff Park Ormiston Academy
Benjamin Britten High School
Ormiston Victory Academy
Flegg High School
East Coast College
East Norfolk 6th Form
Orchestrate Youth Orchestra
Funders and partners
Heritage Lottery Fund
Norfolk Music Hub
BBC Concert Orchestra
Norfolk Record Office
Norwich Writers Centre