This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
GB
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom 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 21 October 2016   |   980 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 - Nov / Dec 2018 Replica Edition included
£2.99
Or 299 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only £ 0.83 per issue
SAVE
72%
£8.99
Or 899 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


THE U-BOAT COAST

THE U-BOAT COAST

The WW1 U-boats at Pendennis have been dived for many years, by many people. The site is probably the second most popular shore-dive in Cornwall. Thousands of trainees did their first open-water dives there, most seeing the remains of one or two of the U-boats. Not sure what to write into their log-books, other than 'Silver Steps’ or ‘Pendennis’, what were these subs? MARK MILBURN investigates, and believes he can now paint a clearer picture of what lies where and why More...
The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

Avid fisher? Or simply passionate about the pastime? Feed your fishing thrills with our 5 best fishing magazines from Pocketmags and cast your line with confidence today! More...
The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

Get ready to take your knowledge of aviation to new heights with our carefully curated list of aviation digital magazines. More...
A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

It is not about the latest ‘it’ bag or must-have accessory of the season, it is not about which celebrity was the best-dressed at last week’s awards ceremony or who has committed a serious fashion faux-pas. It is fully about redefining the status quo and challenging our conception of beauty - it is the one and the only Dazed magazine. More...
The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

Start creating your very own miniature world today with one of our 5 best scale modelling magazines! More...
The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

Inspire your meat-free lifestyle with our 5 best vegan and vegetarian digital magazines! More...
The 5 Best Baking Magazines

The 5 Best Baking Magazines

Passionate baker or dessert lover, here at Pocketmags there’s a digital magazine to make all your sweet dreams come true! More...
The 5 Best Healthy Food Magazines

The 5 Best Healthy Food Magazines

Health crazes are more seeming than ever; a major craze embracing the scene on the regular. We have the 5 best healthy food magazines to leave you feeling positive and vitalised. More...
The 5 Best Music Magazines

The 5 Best Music Magazines

Whether you’re an active listener, player or can get up and boogie to your favourite jam, here at Pocketmags, we have the 5 best music magazines to keep the beat alive in you all year round. More...
DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands 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