We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
CA
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Canada version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Latest Articles > Good Friday

Good Friday
Choir & Organ

Good Friday

Posted October 21, 2016   |   773 views   |   Music   |   Comments (0) How did an initiative to keep a restless class of children engaged at the end of a school week end up involving thousands of children at an international level? Helen Cocks reports

As any teacher knows, Friday afternoons are not a good time for book work. Recognising this, one Robert Britten, 1950s headmaster of Clive House Prep School, found that the refreshing, renewing atmosphere of a group singing class was just the thing for this tricky time slot. But Mr Britten had a secret weapon: his younger brother was one of the 20th century’s greatest composers.

Benjamin Britten’s Friday Afternoons, which is dedicated to Clive House pupils, is a set of 12 songs for children written for just the kind of group singing his brother was leading. They set lively poetry to easyto- learn melodies that are fun to sing and beloved of many a primary school singing leader to this day.

On Friday 22 November 2013, 100 years to the day since Benjamin Britten’s birth, hundreds of Suffolk schoolchildren at Britten’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall were united with thousands more young singers by YouTube and Skype from further afield for The Big Sing, a massed celebration of Britten’s life and of children’s singing today. The event has since become an annual tradition, with 80,000 participants so far from Truro to the Isle of Skye, and even a few groups from as far afield as Thailand.

Since the performances of Britten’s songs in 2013, each year the project now commissions a new set of children’s songs for massed performance on the Friday afternoon closest to Britten’s birthday, 22 November. In 2014 a number of composers contributed, including Gwyneth Herbert and Sally Beamish, while last year Nico Muhly wrote a set of eight songs. For the 2016 project it is the turn of Jonathan Dove. ‘I’ve known of the project since its beginnings, but it’s only been this year that I have been able to participate,’ says Dove; ‘It’s a great initiative.’

Known for his operas, Dove has also written extensively for the concert platform and for children’s voices, reflecting an early enthusiasm for storytelling through song. He remembers being in his church choir and even singing ‘Old Abram Brown’ from the Friday Afternoons cycle with his sister. He has written several major operas and dozens more choral, solo and ensemble works for voices, but works for children’s and community groups remain close to Dove’s heart. ‘I’ve done quite a few projects before that have involved children: I wrote some songs for 1,000 children to sing in the 2010 Mayor’s Thames Festival and I loved seeing how much they enjoyed it, how enthusiastic they were. I was also pleased to find I had pitched the songs at the right level to maintain the children’s interest while still being achievable to learn!’

Dove’s knowledge of the specific demands of children’s songs has stood him in good stead for this Friday Afternoons project. The young singers for the project are mainly aged 8-13, but have widely differing experience in singing, including some who have previously done very little. ‘I have added some elements of sophistication to some of the songs which should keep the more able singers stimulated,’ says Dove, ‘but I’ve been careful that the core of all the songs can be performed by any group.’ Simple but effective techniques such as a canon or round, he explains, often work well for less experienced singers;however, there are some unexpected pitfalls when  working with children in particular: ‘It’s interesting that singing harmony in thirds is often the most difficult thing for children. You see adults doing it quite spontaneously, but it seems to be a skill that comes a bit later in development. I know, in the pieces I have written before, that these are the sections when one of the parts tends to disappear!’

With the intention that any school or youth group should be able to take part, the Friday Afternoons Music project is supported with downloadable teaching resources including excellent recordings of the piano accompaniments. This meant that Dove’s piano wr

For more great articles like this get the Nov - Dec 2016 issue of Choir & Organ below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - May - June 2018 Replica Edition included
$3.99
Or 399 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 2.00 per issue
SAVE
50%
$11.99
Or 1199 points

View Issues

About Choir & Organ

The leading international voice of the choral and organ worlds. Choir & Organ brings you essential news and previews, topical features on new and restored instruments, and in-depth interviews with choirs, choral conductors and composers.

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to Choir & Organ today.

Most read articles this month


WHEN THE MUSE GOES MISSING!

WHEN THE MUSE GOES MISSING!

Nashville songwriter Mark Cawley shares some tactics for reviving those elusive creative juices when you’ve lost the flow More...
How I got  published

How I got published

The author’s debut was actually her sixth novel, she tells Dolores Gordon-Smith More...
3 Free Reads for the New Year

3 Free Reads for the New Year

Spend all your money in December? Us too. We’ve pulled together our 3 favourite free reads available for you on Pocketmags. Everyone loves a free read! More...
News from the world of the piano

News from the world of the piano

Argerich and Babayan in Cleveland More...
ALEX HILDRED: MARY ROSE DIVER

ALEX HILDRED: MARY ROSE DIVER

When she took up scuba 40 years ago, Alexandra Hildred had no idea that her life would become inextricably linked with a Tudor warship. Now the Mary Rose Trust’s Head of Research and Curator of Ordnance & Human Remains, she tells STEVE WEINMAN about the lead-up to the raising of the iconic wreck, still one of the biggest such operations ever attempted. More...
5 Digital Magazines for Spring

5 Digital Magazines for Spring

Here at Pocketmags, we simply cannot wait to welcome in a new season of bloom and blossom. Jumpstart your motivation with our selection of 5 digital magazines for spring. More...
3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

We’ve all heard of the crazy exercises people are trying - from animal yoga to orange theory. But if one of your New Year's resolutions is to get fit and find some sort of exercise you’ll enjoy then maybe you will love one of these… More...
Take your research to the next level

Take your research to the next level

Starting with this issue, and running all through 2018, the Academy learning experience will help you learn more about the records, resources and research skills you need to become the best genealogist you can be. We have case studies for you to pit your wits against, documents for you to decipher, old handwriting for you to tackle, and more… More...
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Without a Valentine

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Without a Valentine

It’s been hitting you in the face since the 1st of February, from the red and pink hues occupying every storefront window, to the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate taking over your local supermarket, there is simply no escaping the mushy romantic vibes of Valentine’s Day. More...
5 Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

5 Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

It’s the one, and the only day of the year that is devoted to a crazy, little thing called love. Where all you need are three words, eight letters and twenty-four hours to steal the heart of the one you most desire. More...
Vouchers Gift Cards A magazine subscription is the perfect gift but you'll need something to show on the big day. View All
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points