Cornwall Residency round-up: Day 5 – BSO musicians up for adoption and the Orchestra does the splits

In another packed schedule of workshops, performances and visits, Day 5 of the BSO’s Cornwall Residency saw two of the BSO’s musicians adopted by local primary schools and the Orchestra’s ensembles delight audiences in North Cornwall with three intimate performances.


The BSO arrive in Perranporth

As the BSO’s 2017 Cornwall Residency passes the halfway point, the Orchestra has already engaged over 1,500 children in local schools with its music and visited communities across the region, ranging from Bude in the north to as far south as the Isles of Scilly. Day 5 saw the BSO continue its extensive programme of music-making workshops and schools visits, which included two of its musicians being ‘adopted’ by local primary schools.


Harrowbarrow Primary School ‘adopts’ BSO Principal Tuba Andi Cresci

The Adopt a Musician project enables schools to ‘adopt’ a BSO musician for a day and get to hear them perform, learn more about their instrument and take part in workshops. BSO Principal Tuba Andy Cresci ventured into the beautiful Tamar Valley to visit Harrowbarrow Primary School where 33 children were treated to a very rare hosepipe and didgeridoo duet! The other BSO musician up for adoption was BSO Second Violin Vicky Berry, who visited Dobwalls Primary School near Liskeard. The children were entranced by her beautiful performance of Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs and were able to ask lots of questions about her violin. Besides providing an exciting opportunity to meet an orchestral musician and see and hear their instrument up close, the project also aims to inspire creativity and interest in orchestral music and ensemble performance.


Dobwalls Primary School with their ‘adopted’ musician, BSO Second Violin, Vicky Berry

The BSO’s Blast schools visits continued to inspire local schoolchildren with creative workshops and special private performances in their own school halls from the BSO’s world-class musicians. Highlights included St Merryn School’s energetic performance of their Egyptian-themed composition ‘Tutenkhamoooooooon!’ with BSO Associate Matt Harrison; more lively sessions with BSO Bash, who visited Fourlanesend School and Menheniot Primary School; and creative workshops with experimental composer Nomura at Pennoweth Primary School and Mithian School.


BSO Associate Matt Harrison and the children of St Merryn’s School

In the evening, the BSO did the splits and divided into the three main families of the orchestra to perform as Brass, Strings and Wind ensembles, enabling the Orchestra to reach communities without a venue large enough to host a full symphony orchestra. The peaceful rural community of St. Endellion were treated to the big sound of BSO Brass who performed a programme including works by Byrd, Sondheim and Gabrieli. The ensemble was also joined by 5 young local brass players who performed side by side with the BSO musicians, in collaboration with Cornwall Music Service Trust.


BSO Brass performing in St. Endellion, joined by 5 local young brass players

The beautiful seaside town of Perranporth was treated to a concert of music reflecting the wonderful diversity of the classical string repertoire by the BSO Strings, conducted by BSO Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association, Victor Aviat, and featured works including Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings and Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Popular guest conductor Frank Zielhorst, meanwhile, was in the historic market town of Launceston with the BSO Winds, who performed a programme of Hummel, Jacobs and Dvořák to a packed hall.


Launceston Town Hall, the venue for the BSO Winds concert

The concerts were in association with Carn to Cove, Cornwall’s performing arts scheme for rural communities and form a key part of the BSO’s Cornwall Residency, ensuring the Orchestra reaches those communities who, due to their location and small size, would otherwise miss out on engaging with live orchestral music-making by professional musicians.
To keep up to date with the BSO’s activities as part of the Cornwall Residency, please visit the live updates page


Cornwall Residency round-up: Day 4 – making music from Launceston to Land’s End and beyond!

Day 4 saw another full schedule for the BSO as intrepid BSO Associate Patrick Bailey made the journey – by boat – across to the Isles of Scilly, whilst on the mainland schoolchildren found themselves ‘In at the Deep End’, and the ensembles continued their tour of Cornwall’s schools.


The BSO reaches Land’s End

As the Orchestra of the South and South West, the BSO has a unique remit covering a region of over 10,000 square miles, embracing many rural and isolated communities. The BSO’s Cornwall Residency enables the Orchestra to reach these more isolated areas and engage people of all ages and backgrounds with the thrill of live music-making.

Day 4 of the residency saw BSO Associate Patrick Bailey brave the blustery weather and choppy waters of the Celtic Sea to make the journey to the Isles of Scilly, the farthest flung corner of the BSO’s home region, to spend a day working with the children of Five Islands School. Patrick is a familiar face on the Islands, together with fellow Cornwall Associate Matt Harrison, who visit throughout the year to deliver community music-making projects including a community choir, Family Orchestra and ensemble for ‘Rusty Returners.’ Patrick’s visit as part of the residency involved creative music workshops with the children, using various hand-held percussion instruments accompanied by Patrick on guitar. There was also a special guest as PC Mat Crowe from the Islands’ Police Station dropped by to join in!


PC Mat Crowe joins BSO Associate Patrick Bailey and the children of Five Islands School for some music-making

Back on the mainland, the BSO’s ensembles continued their packed itinerary visiting schools along the length and breadth of Cornwall, together with BSO Associate Matt Harrison and guest Composer-in-Residence Makoto Nomura. The BSO Bash ensemble spent the day at Sennen Primary School, not far from Lands End, whilst BSO Strings were at the other end of the county in Bude as they met pupils at Budehaven Community College, before joining up with BSO Brass in Bodmin for an inspiring performance in front of 600 children at St Petrocs C of E Primary.


BSO Bash workshop at Sennen Primary School

Students at Humphry Davy School and Bodmin College found themselves ‘In at the Deep End’ when an ensemble comprising musicians from the BSO and Cornwall Music Service Trust performed for them. The ‘In at the Deep End’ ensemble of Tuba, Double Bass, Bassoon and Trombone aims to encourage more young musicians to take up bass clef instruments and the concert demonstrated just how versatile these instruments can be and that their roles are far from being limited to just providing a bass line, with the group performing as an ensemble and also treating the audience to solo performances.


‘In at the Deep End’

In the evening, BSO Brass visited St Dennis Community Band in St Austell, where the 26 strong brass ensemble received coaching and rehearsed side by side with the BSO musicians. The band has been performing in the town since the mid-19th century and brings together musicians of all ages from across the local community, demonstrating the capacity of music to transcend generational and social barriers.


St Dennis Community Band performs with BSO Brass

To keep up to date with the BSO’s activities as part of the Cornwall Residency, please visit the live updates page

Cornwall Residency round-up: Day 3 – on the road with the BSO’s ensembles

The BSO’s Bash, Brass, Strings and Wind ensembles have been touring the county’s primary and secondary schools to bring exciting interactive workshops and concerts to hundreds of schoolchildren, visiting 11 schools on Day 3.


BSO Bash visit Falmouth Primary School

As Day 3 of the BSO’s Cornwall Residency dawned, the BSO’s ensembles were busy preparing for a full day touring the county’s schools to bring an inspiring programme of music-making and creative workshops to schoolchildren of all ages. A core part of the Orchestra’s mission is its work beyond the concert hall through BSO Participate and its five specially tailored strands of activity; the Orchestra’s Cornwall Residency school activities are delivered by the Blast strand. Blast is designed to enrich the school curriculum and increase access to classical music, by bringing the professional orchestra to 5-18 year olds via a wide range of schools visits and concerts, workshops and coaching opportunities.


BSO Strings play to the children of Pelynt School

The first visit of the day saw the BSO Strings travel to the south-east of the county to Pelynt Primary School, near the seaside town of Looe, where the quintet played to 59 very excited children. Each of the five musicians represents one of the string sections of the BSO and the children were able to learn more about each instrument and the different sounds they can produce through a variety of techniques. Further north, BSO Brass were making some noise at St Breock School with 50 young brass players in a workshop session. The children from Years 5 and 6 were able to play alongside the BSO musicians as well as enjoy a concert which hopefully inspired them to continue their music-making and maybe one day become musicians themselves.


Young brass players enjoying a workshop with BSO Brass at St Breock School

Meanwhile, the BSO Winds travelled to Penair Secondary School in Truro where they worked with 15 talented young musicians in various ensembles. The students were coached through a selection of pieces by the BSO musicians and then were able to enjoy a performance by the quintet. In the afternoon, BSO Bash were creating musical mayhem during their visit to Falmouth Primary School. The ensemble worked with 25 children in Years 3 to 6 who enjoyed the musicians’ performance so much that a number of encores were demanded and a music stand was the worse for wear after such enthusiastic music-making!


BSO Winds working with the talented young musicians at Penair School

In total, the four ensembles visited 11 schools across Cornwall, from Newlyn in the south to Wadebridge and Liskeard, inspiring almost 500 children and young people with live music-making. For some of these children, it will have been the first time they have seen professional orchestral musicians perform and will have provided an unforgettable experience, perhaps even sparking a life-long passion for music.

To keep up to date with the BSO’s activities as part of the Cornwall Residency, please visit the live updates page

Cornwall Residency round-up: Day 2 – boomwhackers, bananas and BSO Bash

On Day 2 of the BSO’s 2017 Cornwall Residency, the musicians have been out and about visiting the region’s primary schools, inspiring the next generation of musicians with creative workshops and coaching.


BSO Associate Matt Harrison with the children of Jacobstow Primary

With an itinerary taking in 60 locations across Cornwall and visiting over 50 schools, this year’s Cornwall Residency is the BSO’s most extensive yet, enabling the Orchestra to reach even more communities with its live music-making. Monday 27 March saw the first day of schools visits where the BSO musicians, Associates and guest Composer-in-Residence Makoto Nomura provided creative workshops and coaching to schoolchildren in all four corners of the county. Delivered by BSO Participate’s Blast strand, which works closely with Music Education Hubs and schools to bring music alive for schoolchildren across the South West, the BSO musicians lead music-making sessions which are tailored to fit the school curriculum.

Beginning at Wendron C of E Primary School in Helston, on the northern Lizard Peninsula, 34 schoolchildren were treated to the unique musical style of Makoto Nomura, the world-renowned Japanese experimental and contemporary composer. Together in a creative workshop, the children worked with Nomura to compose a piece for telescope boomwackers, resulting in some inventive sounds and lots of original ideas. Meanwhile in North Cornwall, BSO Associate Matt Harrison was busy working with the children at Jacobstow Primary School to compose a brand new piece, called ‘Feelings.’

Cornwall2017_NomuraCreative Workshop1

BSO Guest Composer-in-Residence Makoto Nomura and 34 boomwacker-wielding children

Things turned decidedly noisier in the afternoon when the BSO Bash percussion ensemble arrived at Indian Queens School in the heart of Cornwall to lead an afternoon of workshops and a concert to 60 pupils. The BSO Bash musicians demonstrated the range of techniques used by percussionists on a variety of instruments including djembe drums, snare drums, xylophone and a variety of handheld percussion – even the music stands were played!


BSO Bash in action at Indian Queens School

BSO Associate Hugh Nankivell also visited St Minver Primary School in Wadebridge where he led the Year 6 class in a creative composition session, resulting in the performance of their new piece, ‘Bananas of the World.’ The school visits will continue throughout the week as the BSO’s ensembles and musicians bring workshops, coaching and concert performances to primary and secondary schools across the county from Launceston to Sennen.


BSO Associate Hugh Nankivell with the Year 6 class at St Minver Primary School

To keep up to date with the BSO’s activities in Cornwall, visit the live updates page

Cornwall Residency round-up: Day 1 – musical Mothers’ Day fun

The BSO’s 2017 Cornwall Residency got underway on Sunday with a Family Orchestra Day in Penryn which saw people of all ages collaborate to create a special piece of music to celebrate Mothers’ Day, with BSO Guest Composer-in-Residence Makoto Nomura.


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra began its week-long Cornwall Residency with an exciting community creative music-making workshop in the historic market town of Penryn. The Family Orchestra Day, appropriately held on Mothering Sunday, invited the whole family to come along and take part in 3 hours of creative composition led by BSO Associates Matt Harrison and Hugh Nankivell, together with the BSO Bash percussion ensemble and world-renowned experimental composer Makoto Nomura.

Open to anyone regardless of musical ability, the workshop enabled people from across Cornwall to experience orchestral music-making in a friendly and relaxed environment as part of a mixed ensemble. With no need to read music or to audition, musicians of all ages enjoyed any form of music-making to suit them, from having a go on handheld percussion instruments to using their everyday voice. 24 participants worked with Nomura and the BSO’s musicians to compose a special Mothers’ Day Symphony in a workshop session which then culminated with the premiere performance of the piece in the afternoon in front of an audience of family and friends.

The day provided participants with the opportunity to try out new instruments as well as learning about how ideas can come together to create a new piece, in a supportive and fun setting where there was no such thing as a ‘wrong’ note. It was enjoyed by all who attended with some very positive feedback from participants:

“What better way to spend Mothers’ Day than writing and playing a Mothers’ Day Symphony”

“Wonderful experience for the family”

“It was really fun and highly enjoyable”

The residency will continue throughout the week with the Orchestra visiting some 60 locations across the county and bringing creative workshops and concerts to schoolchildren at over 50 schools. Other community events that will be taking place during the week include the BSO’s Tea Dances at St Mawes and Gwinear, and the culmination of the residency on Saturday 1 April with the BSO Rusties ‘Symphony in a Day’, which will see over 100 local musicians rehearse and play alongside BSO musicians as they take on the challenge of learning Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 in a day.

To keep up to date with the BSO’s activities as part of the Cornwall Residency, please visit the live updates page

The Lightbulbs with Hugh Nankivell

When you are running a music ensemble in a school and playing music that is already fixed and composed and where there are parts printed out and not many people turn up and you get frustrated because your orchestra/big band/choir is not working, what do you do? Do you battle on without flutes or altos or rhythm section? Or do you stop the group and give up making ensemble music? Or do you try something else completely?

At Torquay Girls Grammar School (TGGS) we are running an experiment to run a band for anyone, whatever experience they have and on whatever instrument they want to play. So far we have a group of about fifteen to twenty year nine girls who come along every Wednesday lunchtime for about 55 minutes. They play a range of instruments, which we have divided into an ensemble of 4 sections, untuned percussion (mainly drums), tuned percussion (glockenspiels and xylophones), keyboards and strings (so far with a harp, a violin, a guitar and a ukulele). Only about a quarter have instrumental lessons and would consider themselves to be musicians. We have named ourselves ‘The Lightbulbs’ and begun to compose our own music. After three sessions, a series of original musical and narrative ideas are emerging.

The Lighbulbs are motivated to come each week, and we are starting to have discussions about why this is the case. I have explained that unlike a regular orchestra it doesn’t matter what the line-up is, and if students want to change instruments that is ok, and if one week some people are missing, similarly, this is not a disaster. We also talk about how we have differing instrumental and listening abilities, but when we listen to the music we are making we realise that it can work as a coherent whole. At the end of the third session I asked the girls to write down on a post-it note what their thoughts were about ‘The Lightbulbs’ and here is their list.

People can just play along with what sounds right,
Playing, (and a picture of a little heart)
We have a wide range of instruments,
I like how we come up with our own music,
I like it how it builds up to get louder,
I like the variety of instruments in our band,
It’s really creative and no idea is a bad idea,
I like squirrels and chestnuts, (two of the sections in our developing piece)
I like that everyone’s really friendly and work well together,
I like the variety of instruments and sounds of each group and the different sections,
I love the lovely atmosphere and people, (and a picture of a lightbulb)
I like how many different kinds of instruments that are in the lightbulbs,
I like how the lighbulbs work so well together and able to adapt to work together,
I like the atmosphere.

These comments are really positive and make both me and the class music teacher at TGGS, Naomi Shaddick, excited about the future of both ‘The Lightbulbs’ and this model of playing together.

This is part of my BSO Music Associate work and is funded with money from Torbay Music Hub as part of their new ensembles project.


LIGHTBULBS following session

I began the session asking the group what they wanted to do today. Initially I got silence and surprised looks, but gradually three answers emerged. It felt as if I was being provocative in starting the ‘Lightbulbs’ lunchtime band with this question, and of course it was, in the best sense of the ‘provocative’ word. We make music collaboratively and we find out what it is that we need collaboratively. It is not so unusual.

The three answers were:

  1. To make a new section for the piece,
  2. To make some more lyrics,
  3. To rehearse the section we created 2 weeks earlier entitled ‘Wind.’

I wrote these three answers up on the board and then after a couple of warm-up games and a little chat about the purpose of warm-up games, and me reading them my blog post from the previous week we got on with our agenda. We achieved all of it and more.

The band is getting smaller each week, but that is perhaps to be expected. The music teacher commented that we were down to a normal lunchtime band size now! The group that now regularly comes (and there were ten yesterday) are learning to create together and how to make interesting new music with a range of differing instrumental skills. We discussed how this particular band does not require people to be there every week and when they are missing we find new ways to make music. One percussionist revealed that in one section of the music she relied on her partner to play a part which she then imitated. Her partner was away yesterday and so she asked what she should do? I asked the rest of the group to answer this question, and another band member said ‘just do what you like!’ In this way the band is acknowledging that music can be made in many different ways and we are not all following a fixed historical agenda of what a band is and how one should operate.

We also chatted about the fact that we may make something up in two seeks time (our last session preceding a little sharing/performance) and then immediately perform it and that music is not only good when it has been rehearsed over and over, but the immediacy of new music can also be exciting and have real value.

‘Lightbulbs’ only has six sessions in total planned, and it is now (after four) that we are just starting to understand one another. I think that if we existed for six months we could really have a musical and social impact on the members of the group, their friends and colleagues, the staff and any potential audiences.


Catch up: Hugh Nankivell, BSO Associate

In the last couple of weeks I have led three BSO Associate projects with three very different groups of people.  I was working in Bridport on a multi-national youth project called The Complete Freedom of Truth (TCFT) and spent the whole of one day with a group of motivated musical teenagers (‘Remix’) and their carers. I began the Torbay Family Orchestra (and we renamed ourselves the UFO – Unidentified Family Orchestra) at Torre Abbey and I also started a band at a local school in Torquay – open to all year 9’s – and 22 turned up and we had an hour making new music together.

For all of these settings the main aim was to make new music together. I did not arrive with a set of repertoire pieces that we would play (which is the usual starting point for most orchestras), or even a set of fixed warm-up games and exercises. Instead I arrive with a list of potential starting points, a head full of games and exercises that I have used before and could use again, a history of experience in working in this way and a willingness to ‘play’ music and to see where this leads. I arrive without any preconceived notion of where we might end up at the end of the sessions. (As an example – at the UFO session I arrived with a sheet with twelve potential starting points on it – some discussions, others games, others musical structures – and we used only three of them in the three hours, and one of those ideas took us on a journey for 90 minutes and another was a two minute discussion!)

This approach does have a structure, which I increasngly use and is tri-partite.

1) Provocation
2) Exploration
3) Sharing

It begins with a provocation. What might this provocation be? A question, a rhythm, an idea, an instrument, a way of playing, a title? We then explore ideas that emerge from this provocation in many different ways through playing and experimenting, listening and laughing. I might be constantly required to guide these explorations, or the groups might prefer to go off researching and burrowing without me. Finally we share the work that has emerged, and we celebrate ourselves for having made it.

In each setting we made music very quickly and successfully and this surprised all of the groups. It motivated them to want to continue and return and develop their ideas, skills and musical playing. It seems to me that this workshop approach to making music, whereby the leader arrives with a starting point and an open mind and follows what emerges, must be the way forward. The journey I have begun with each of these groups is similar and the BSO Associate model allows me this space and opportunity and for this I am very grateful and excited to see where it goes.