JYCO, Benjamin Britten, and Friday Afternoons
21st-24th November 2013
This project was a large-scale collaboration between the Jersey Academy of Music, Jersey Music Service, Jersey Youth Chamber Orchestra, Chetham’s School of Music, Victoria College Preparatory School, Janvrin Primary School and Grouville Primary school, with the support of the Strasser Foundation (Jersey Youth Chamber Orchestra) and Jersey Arts Trust (Chetham’s School of Music involvement). Delta Conference Systems and Aldeburgh Music assisted with the live streaming and recording elements of this project. Concerts took place on Friday 22nd November for schools, and 24th November for the public.
Combined Schools Choir
The combined choirs of Victoria College Preparatory School, Janvrin Primary School and Grouville Primary school were rehearsed by Jane Silvester (VCP and Combined Choirs), Rebecca Lawrence (Janvrin), and Katy Key (Grouville), and enjoyed learning Britten’s ‘Friday Afternoons’, a set of 12 songs composed between 1933 and 1935. The simple songs, with witty piano accompaniments, are dedicated to Britten’s schoolmaster brother, Robert, and the boys of Clive House preparatory school, Prestatyn – a school in which choir practice and singing lessons regularly took place on a Friday afternoon.
Local young composer Ruben Maric composed arrangements of three of the songs for chamber orchestra, Begone Dull Care, New Year Carol, and Old Abram Brown. The choirs sung on Friday 22nd November to 200 local schoolchildren at a concert coordinated by the Jersey Music Service.
Jersey Youth Chamber Orchestra
At the heart of this project was the Jersey Youth Chamber Orchestra. This was the orchestra’s fourth session together, and this time they were joined by several students from Chetham’s School of Music, and the orchestra was conducted by Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music at Chets. The orchestra is run through the partnership of the Jersey Academy of Music and Jersey Music Service, and sponsored by the Strasser Foundation.
For this session the students were coached by Young Pyo Lee (upper strings), Emmanuelle Dumas (lower strings), Julia Arnett (woodwind), Victoria Laurens, Graham Cox, and Allan Jones (brass).
Chetham’s School of Music
Through the support of the Jersey Arts Trust, a group of six young musicians from Chetham’s School of Music accompanied Director of Music Stephen Threlfall and Alice Herbert to the island for this project. Forming a string quintet with piano, the ensemble performed various pieces by Benjamin Britten including his ‘Simple Symphony’.
The group was also part of the Jersey Youth Chamber Orchestra, and it was lovely to welcome back the four local young musicians currently studying at Chets; Iona Russell (cello), Grace Macdonald (saxophone), Liberty Spears (vocal) and Lylis O’Hara (vocal), to involve them in this project.
We were delighted that both the Schools Concert and the Public Concert were broadcast live throughout the UK via Aldeburgh Music. Inspired by the legacy of Britten, Aldeburgh Music is responsible for a year-round programme of artistic endeavour. This Jersey project was connected to Aldeburgh Music’s Britten Centenary programme and the worldwide ‘Britten 100’ celebrations. These recordings were also be made into a wonderful professionally produced ‘Concert DVD’.
Logo Design Competition
All the choir children had the opportunity to design a logo for this project, and the entries were adjudicated by Sasha Gibb from the Jersey Arts Trust earlier in the term.
The winning entries for each school were James Murphy (VCP), Rachel Shaw (Janvrin), and Amy Kempster (Grouville), who all received certificates. The overall winning entry was James Murphy’s striking ‘BB’ design, which was on the T-Shirts of all the choir children, the cover of the programme, and at the top of this article.