The English Concert has been at the forefront of the Baroque and Classical music revival ever since its creation by Trevor Pinnock in 1972. It now comprises many of Europe's finest baroque musicians, who together and individually have worked with leading directors for over 30 years. This unique heritage of experience and expertise is ripe for passing on to the new generation.
Handel, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Purcell are still feted by millions around the world hundreds of years after their deaths. Today we know their music, but many children (tomorrow’s audience) know little about them and the lives they led. They were the celebrities of their day, but what were they like as people? Is it true that Mozart was hyperactive (as in the film Amadeus) and Handel was grumpy and lacking in social skills? Maybe you have to possess a special gene to break boundaries and open your mind to the creation of new sounds that nobody in your time had thought possible, as within every genius are elements of eccentricity and craziness.
Bringing to life the stories and music of these great composers and demonstrating why they were brilliant (and yes, a little crazy too) has always been a passion of Robert Howes, principal timpanist with The English Concert for more than 20 years. That is why he created a live education programme out of The Childrens Company Crazy Composers multi-media project, in collaboration with The English Concert.
The programme’s commitment is to nurture a love of music, to inspire and empower children to become enthusiastic musical explorers and to provide new opportunities (including digital) for them to use music for creative expression, through individual and collective performance. Our aim is to unlock the genius in every child.
Crazy Composers was introduced to Meadow View School in Walsall earlier this year. It was a joy to see the children growing in confidence as their ability as performers developed and as they learnt about the orchestra and discovered Handel and his music.
Due to the children’s dedication and the support of composer Julie Cooper, we created (as they called it!) “a musical extravaganza”. With the children performing as musicians, playing instruments, rapping, singing as a choir and backing group, proudly sharing and showcasing their talents, to the delight of their fellow pupils, parents, teachers and local community.
Watch out! Crazy Composers is coming to a community near you!
Crazy Composers is copyright and IP of the Children's Company LTD
The English Concert Masterclass at the Foundling Museum
The first English Concert Master Class for young directors in July 2010 provided three days of intensive coaching for four young harpsichordists with ambitions to direct baroque music from the keyboard. Three days of in-depth work on a wide range of repertoire with Harry Bicket, Laurence Cummings, two solo singers and the orchestra culminated in a concert in which all the students directed The English Concert.
Conducting classes with symphony orchestras are a familiar feature of the classical music calendar, but master classes for aspiring baroque directors are few and far between, so this was an important and timely new initiative which we hope to continue in future seasons.
The Foundling Museum, with its strong musical and educational associations, superb art collection and resonant spaces, was the perfect venue for the master class.
The English Concert Masterclass was open to the public throughout.