On 9th March the ECO embarked upon the start of its CREATIVE CONNECTION collaboration based at St Edmund’s School, Canterbury, and involving 14 local state schools.
John Mills (violin), Bozidar Vukotik (cello) and John Thurgood (horn) coached the East Kent Children’s Orchestra (EKCO) and then took part in a question-and-answer session (the children’s questions to the ECO musicians ranging from “should we finish that piece on an up-bow?” to “how much do you get paid?”).
The children’s orchestra then performed three pieces for an audience made up of parents, teachers and a variety of visitors (including local people and ECO Charitable Trust members). The EKCO was made up of children from Barham Primary, Blean Primary, Graveney Primary, Herne Bay Junior, Hoath Primary, Petham Primary, St Anselm’s Catholic School, St Christopher’s, St Mary’s Catholic School, St Peter’s Methodist Primary, St Stephen’s Junior, Stelling Minnis Primary, Wingham Primary, Simon Langton Boys’ and Girls’ , and St Edmund’s itself.
The ECO Close Encounters outreach team will return to Canterbury on May 12 for a masterclass for young string players, given by ECO violinist John Mills. The team will also lead the first of a series of creative workshops with schools in the local community, some of whose pupils are members of the EKCO. In the Autumn the Creative Connections programme will run a coaching session for St Edmund’s senior Symphony Orchestra.
Will Bersey, Director of Music at St Edmund’s, said “we are delighted to welcome such esteemed musicians to our school and are hugely excited about what has been achieved today. It is truly moving to experience what has been achieved by this group of musicians since their inception just 18 months ago, and to reward them with the privilege of working with musicians from the English Chamber Orchestra is an opportunity that we are extremely thankful for.”
Marilyn Groves, the ECO’s Education and Outreach Manager, who initiated the Creative Connection project, was able to observe all the workshop activities, both tutti and sectional, and said that the morning was ‘Inspiring – with the children showing wonderful enthusiasm and the ECO musicians thoroughly enjoying working with the young people.’ She added ‘We are all very much looking forward to the development of this Creative Connection and felt warmly welcomed at St Edmund’s School.’