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For Watercycle, we travelled to nine towns and cities across across the UK, collaborating with local communities and bringing unique musical experience to people of all ages and backgrounds. With our final residency coming to a close at the beginning of 2016, here’s a look back at our previous years of Watercycle touring.
Usually, the Orchestra will engage in a three day residency in the chosen town. Many months beforehand, members of the Orchestra will have visited to conduct training sessions with the teachers involved, to make sure they are all clued in on the different activities, games, and songs the children will be engaging in. The first day sees us revisiting the schools for final preparations and rehearsals.
On the second day, the project kicks off with school concerts for KS1, KS2, and Special Educational Needs students, featuring music by Vivaldi and Handel, sing-along sea shanties and specially-composed songs. The concerts are all based on the theme of water and teaches the children about the water cycle. The students are all encouraged to bring in water bottle full of pennies to use as shakers; this is one fun and easy way them to join in with the music making, and at the end the money all goes towards helping WaterAid. In our Lowestoft residency, our composer and conductor James Redwood did a sponsered 3km swim to raise even more money towards the cause!
The day isn’t just for youngsters though, and sometimes we will arrange to put on a concert in care-homes around the area; it’s a great way meet the residents there and give them a very special and intimate live music experience.
Later in the evening, we will put on an evening concert in the local area, which anyone is free to attend. Usually they take place in pubs or other local venues, and take a very relaxed and informal approach to performance; feel free to kick back with a beer and enjoy!
The next morning is always an early start, as we stage one of the OAE’s TOTS concerts for toddlers. It features lots of child-friendly musical activities and games, which encourage them to engage with different aspects of baroque and early music, and afterwards they even get to mingle with the players and learn about the instruments up close and personal.
The third day is spent preparing for our final concert, which is open to the local community and anyone that wants to come. In this concert, we get together with young musicians from nearby secondary schools and choirs to perform as one massive ensemble. We play pieces specially composed for this combination of modern and period instruments, and we give the students the unique experience of rehearsing and performing in a professional context. They rise to the challenge every time!