“Part of the sheer enjoyment of the Island project was the collaborative nature of its creation with all three – myself, Phil and Roz – in constant touch as the work developed. When Ely Sinfonia music director and conductor Steve Bingham came on board as the first rehearsals approached Island really took flight. Island’s first performance was a delight. What made it really special was the willing and enthusiastic participation of the more than 150 children who sang and chanted with total conviction. The presence of the Cantores chamber choir was also absolutely crucial. Their singing on the night – and on the recording of the concert – was a key component of the success of the performance. I very much look forward to future performances of Island.” (Jeremy Harmer)
Invited to the Ely Cathedral première was Peter Lovell, a former Colchester Institute Music student who, following his successful career in secondary education, is now the Schools Curriculum Standards and Development Lead Officer for Essex Music Services within Essex County Council. We are in negotiation for a possible performance by Essex primary schools, the Youth Orchestras and choirs. This is an exciting prospect that may be rolled out to other Music Hubs across the country.
Island is designed to be a focus for music education and is an ideal work to provoke musical engagement and participation for all children. It is hoped it can act as a catalyst for a number of discussions, investigations and projects about its themes of anger, conflict resolution, the use of the world’s precious resources – and the involvement of young people in war.
At the concert, two competition winners from the schools’ poetry competition read their poems about conflict, which were moving and justifiably celebrated. It is this further interaction with the curriculum which the work promotes and enables.
But above all, Island is a work brimming with humour, pathos and accessible beautiful music which tugs at the heart, and offers a wonderful experience of music and performance for both participants and audience alike.
Phil Toms, July 2015.