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Music Project Celebrates Derby’s Lunar History

  • Date: 11/02/2013
  • Category: General

More than 150 young people from six schools and colleges in Derby and Derbyshire will be working with Derby-based regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva, Derby LIVE and Derby Museums over the coming months on a ground breaking music project.

The project, entitled ‘Moon’ will explore the creative links between music and science -particular space and time.  It will also celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of John Whitehurst, the renowned Derby clock maker upon whose work the Smiths clock factory in Derby was founded.

John Whitehurst was also the father of modern geology and a founder member of the Lunar Society along with artist Joseph Wright and other famous thinkers, philosophers and industrialists who were instrumental in the birth of the industrial revolution in the 18th century.

Pupils from Becket and Griffe Field primary schools, Littleover Community School and Derby College in the city and then Creswell Junior School and John Flamsteed community school in the county will be involved in the Orchestra’s Spring residency – working alongside Viva workshop leaders James Redwood and Jack Ross and celebrated young composer Anna Meredith.

Anna will compose five pieces inspired by the Algonquian Native American names for the 12 full moons of the year which will combine electronics and classical music and the other seven pieces will be written by the young people which they will perform alongside the Orchestra.

The project launches on January 29 when all the young participants will visit Derby College’s Roundhouse campus where one of John Whitehurst’s clocks still stands. 

After hearing about the work of the clock maker from Bob Betts, the Managing Director of Smith of Derby, the young people will join initial creative workshop sessions at the Roundhouse before returning to their schools to work with the Viva composers and musicians to create their own pieces of music over the coming weeks.

The spectacular culmination concert at the Assembly Rooms on March 21 will see Viva musicians performing alongside the young players and singers on a giant stage on the whole ground floor of the Great Hall.

The audience will be in the balcony above so that they can also enjoy a series of live drawings illustrating the musical themes by Anna’s sister, artist Eleanor Meredith which will be projected onto the stage.

Eleanor will be working alongside technicians from Derby LIVE and Francis Gardner who was heavily involved in the city’s Olympic Torch Relay celebrations in Darley Park.

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough explained: “The year’s Spring residency is ground breaking in so many ways.

“The whole theme celebrates the work and vision of John Whitehurst and the Lunar Society movement – bringing the importance of their influence in the changing face of industrial Britain to a new generation in an imaginative way.

“Compositions will then combine the very different sounds of classical and electronics music and many of the young people involved will be compiling their work into a submission to gain their Arts Award.

“And the performance itself will have the added visual aspect of live drawings illustrating the images of the 12 full moons ranging from January’s Wolf moon to July’s Thunder moon – which will bring a wonderfully eerie and magical feel to the whole performance.

“Anna is a brilliant composer and has worked with us several times under the Composer in the House programme run by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the PRS for Music Foundation.

“Her last commission with us was ‘Tributes for 4am’ – an electronics and orchestral piece which featured sound recordings that Anna and Eleanor made of life in the city centre at night time.  The piece premiered in Derby two years ago as part of the  Association of British Orchestra’s national conference which was hosted by Viva.

“We are therefore delighted to be working with Anna again and of course James Redwood and Jack Ross whose work with Viva has been shortlisted no less than three times for the prestigious British Composer Awards.

“We are looking forward to the ‘Moon’ residency getting underway and working with a new group of young people from all ages who I’m sure will greatly benefit from this experience in working with professional composers and musicians to unleash their creative talents.”

The project has been supported by continued funding from Rolls-Royce plc, Orchestras Live, Derby City Council as well as Derby Opera Company, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Ernest Cook Trust and the Tom Carey Fund, administered through Derbyshire Community Foundation.


Media enquiries:

Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945 665;

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