Last week I was lucky enough to take a break from the computer and visit St George’s Primary to see how they were getting on with the Gobbolino project delivered by Into Opera. Little did I know how much of a treat I was in for…
As I arrived the children were warming up with conductor John Andrews and clarinettist, Rachel Coe; making a mix of shushes and brrrrr noises, and then a little introduction to the clarinet. This is the moment I love – the reaction of the children to professional musicians and singers; they are entranced, intrigued and totally captured in the moment.
“why has it got so many holes?!”
Rachel explained that when she held fingers over the holes, it changed the notes that we hear. She went on to say that the further the breath had to go down the clarinet, the lower the note would sound. I enjoy listening to classical music but hadn’t really thought about that before – just goes to show you learns something new everyday.
The main purpose of the session was to introduce the children to the idea of composing and to create music to accompany scenes from Gobbolino the Witches Cat. Bearing in mind these children read the book well over a term ago, it’s clear they have totally engaged with the story – they could recall special moments in the book, different locations as well as moods.
The children were asked to think about what might happen in a farmhouse and the people that might occupy it. Groups were then allocated a scene from the book to bring alive; ranging from the cooking noises to giggling children playing outside to roaming farmyard animals. A trolley of musical instruments, a little rehearsal time and a tip or two from the Into Opera team and the children were ready to perform. Rachel and John would set the tone with piano and clarinette and then cue the extraordinary scene of artistic director, Genevieve Raghu, conducting between bubbling pots, crying babies and a particularly convincing sheep.
St George’s Primary was partnered with Into Opera as part of the Making Waves Together ‘Culture Schools’ programme and are two of four schools working on an exciting project that will see this well-loved children’s book, transformed into a family-friendly opera.
For more information on this project, or how your school could join the programme, please contact Phoebe Wingate on firstname.lastname@example.org.