St Albans school adopts its own composer

CHILDREN from a St Albans primary school were able to adopt their very own composer and perform original music at The Sandpit Theatre recently.

Skyswood Primary School pupils worked with Dr Paul Fretwell, a composer and lecturer from Kent University, to compose an orchestral piece called By The Sea.

The opportunity was the idea of the St Albans Rehearsal Orchestra (SARO) who applied to the national scheme Adopt a Composer, and were one of six amateur groups to be chosen this year.

Chair of SARO, Ros Heraghty, explained: “This was a very exciting partnership with our Rehearsal Orchestra, Paul Fretwell, and music teacher Janet Bird that really involved the children.

“The scheme matches groups and composers, and the composers write music specially for the group. Only six groups are chosen each year to take part in the scheme, and we are very lucky to have been chosen this year. We decided to use this opportunity to further continue our work with local children.”

SARO performed five pieces composed by Paul all on the theme of water. As well as playing the piece By The Sea, children also played in River and Drips and Drops, where they had to copy the orchestra, who challenged the children by adding extra notes and decoration.

Ros Heraghty explained: “It is a key objective of SARO to take music into primary schools. No human society or culture anywhere in the world has ever been discovered which does not make music. It is something we simply can’t and shouldn’t do without.”

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Almost 50 children were involved in the performance at the Sandpit Theatre, and many others were in the audience, along with parents and families who came to listen.

Headteacher of Skyswood, Bob Bridle, commented: “This was a brilliant opportunity for the children. We have had children as young as six working with a composer, and they have been practising for months. The children really had an input and they all thoroughly enjoyed it.

“We are very grateful to SARO and everyone who made it such a wonderful event. The composer, Paul Fretwell, and conductor Will Carslake had a wonderful rapport with the children, and we all enjoyed the performance.”

BBC Radio 3 was at the theatre to record the performance, which may be broadcast later this year as part of a programme about the Adopt a Composer scheme.

It is very likely that these works will be developed by Paul Fretwell into a package of music that can be used in primary schools in the future.