Schools Voices 110-strong choir creates original songs

Bath’s secondary schools have united to create a unique choir of young people who are creating and performing their own songs for The Bath Festival this month.

The choir, Schools Voices, is made up of 110 young people from 11 of Bath’s secondary schools. They have been creating and rehearsing with Bath Philharmonia’s Creative Learning team of musicians and singers to put on two live performances, at St Swithin’s Church, Walcot, on Friday 13 May as part of Party in the City, and on Thursday 19 May at The Forum as part of the Concert for the People of Bath.

The Schools Voices project was set up as a collaboration of Bath Festivals’ Creative Learning programme, teachers from both State and independent schools in Bath and North East Somerset and the Creative Learning team at Bath Philharmonia. The 11 schools taking part are: Oldfield School, Kingswood School, St Gregory’s Catholic College, Three Ways School, King Edward’s School, Monkton Senior School, Ralph Allen School, Royal High School, Hayesfield School and Beechen Cliff School.

The project is particularly special because young people have undergone two challenging years during the pandemic when they were largely unable to mix widely with others, and because Schools Voices has enabled them to write their own heart-felt songs which reflect their shared experience. One of the songs the choir performs is called Thank You. It was written by students from Ralph Allen, King Edward’s and Hayesfields Schools and includes the line ‘thank you for helping me through’. It is dedicated to the parents, teachers, friends and others who helped them during the challenges of lockdown.

Jason Thornton, music director of Bath Philharmonia, worked with music leaders Dylan Lindo Jones, Samantha Lindo and Caitlyn Newble to help the young singers achieve their creative goals. He said: “Schools Voices has been good for the kids to create their own pieces, good for the schools to be able to work together and good for the community to be able to get back into the concert halls again!”

Hazel Plowman, head of Creative Learning at Bath Festivals has worked on the project since its inception and is delighted so see its results. She said: “It’s been an absolute joy to work on the Schools Voices project, to bring together young people from across Bath to share their ideas, collaborate and be creative. Bath Philharmonia’s Creative Learning Team have done an amazing job at supporting the young people to create four uplifting and powerful songs. It’s so important after the challenging times that these young people have faced that they have these opportunities to enjoy and express themselves. Writing music and singing together is a perfect way to do that.”

Here’s what some of the young people taking part had to say:
“I enjoyed collaborating to create a great piece of music” “It’s been a really fun experience!” – Kingswood boys.
“We’re proud of the piece we made” – Kingswood girl
“It’s been fun to interact with the other schools” – Monkton School boy
“I enjoyed seeing the piece change from beginning to end. It’s been a lot of fun, Jason is a very funny guy” – Beechen Cliff boy

Schools Voices has also been supported by The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and Bath Recreation.

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