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Hundreds of children raise the roof at singing event

PUBLISHED: 09:12 20 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 20 November 2017

Pupils on stage at the Big Sing at Snape Maltings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Pupils on stage at the Big Sing at Snape Maltings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Hundreds of Suffolk children helped “raise the roof” during a singing project first conceived to mark the centenary of one of the county’s most famous composers.

800 children from 22 Suffolk primary schools took part in the Big Sing at Snape Maltings. Picture: GREGG BROWN 800 children from 22 Suffolk primary schools took part in the Big Sing at Snape Maltings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

This year’s Big Sing, held last Friday (November 17) at Snape Maltings, brought together 800 children from 22 Suffolk schools to celebrate the fifth annual “Friday Afternoons” project.

Originally conceived by Snape Maltings as the culmination of the 2013 Britten centenary, Friday Afternoons is named after the collection of simple songs the composer wrote for his brother’s school to sing every Friday.

The event highlighted the collective joy of singing. Picture: GREGG BROWN The event highlighted the collective joy of singing. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The annual project champions the “joy of collective singing” and encourages as many young people as possible to join in. It also commissions new pieces of music written for children’s voices.

This year’s new set was written by Australian composer, Luke Styles, along with librettist Alan McKendrick. The songs had been premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June.

Some 15 musicians from the Voces Cantabiles Music Foundation led the Big Sing, offering a rare opportunity to see both internationally renowned a cappella ensembles VOCES8 and Apollo5 working together.

Emily Barden, project manager for the Friday Afternoons project, said it was “absolutely wonderful” to see the children enjoying themselves.

“What was really wonderful was watching the children working with VOCES8 and Apollo5,” she added.

“They got to hear an a cappella eight piece performing and that was really something special. But also to hear the sound of all 800 children singing together in harmony and really raising the roof, was just brilliant.

“The songs really came to life.”

The students took part in creative workshops, performances and sang together as a massed choir in the concert hall.

They performed songs from the Friday Afternoons “Song Bank”, including pieces by Luke Styles, and the composers from previous years’ Big Sings – Jonathan Dove, Nico Muhly, Gwyneth Herbert and Jason Yarde – alongside a selection of Britten’s original Friday Afternoons songs.

VOCES8 and Apollo5 had been working with students from Sir John Leman High School in Beccles and Westbourne Academy, Ipswich, developing pieces based on their own creative response to Friday Afternoons songs, which they performed last Friday.

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