In 2016 we delivered the following outreach projects:
Each term Buxton Festival works with a different primary school in Buxton to deliver Arts Award. This is a portfolio based qualification accredited by Trinity College London and supported by Arts Council England. The Festival’s Arts Award Advisors spend half a day a week for eight weeks in each school. Over the course of the programme the children are introduced to singing, poetry, painting and drawing, drama and architecture. They meet local artists and go on a tour of Buxton Opera House. By the end of the course they have a much better understanding of ‘The Arts’ and how they can engage with creativity in their town. This year 160 primary aged children at three different schools will have completed the Arts Award course with Buxton Festival.
“Being involved in the Arts award has provided opportunities for the children to work with a whole variety of artists that would otherwise not have been possible. It’s broadened their horizons and provided memorable learning experiences. Thank you.” Head teacher
Kaleidoscope Community Choir
Buxton Festival’s community choir is going from strength to strength with a regular membership of 35 singers. The choir meet every Tuesday lunchtime at Buxton Opera House for a fun, informal rehearsal. This year Kaleidoscope have performed at private functions, at the Buxton Spring Fair, at Buxton Festival Fringe, for dementia patients at Cavendish Hospital, and even appeared on an episode of BBC’s Escape to the Country. A highlight of the year for the choir has been the rehearsals and performance of a new song written by choir member Jacob Eckert about walking in the Peak District. It was very moving for choir members to see the song take shape and to be able to perform it at the Buxton Festival Fringe was very special.
“It was lovely to sing to and with the residents at the Cavendish Hospital and I found singing Love Me Tender quite emotional in that context! I enjoy the range of music we cover at choir and the informality and fun of it all.”
“I really enjoy singing in the Kaleidoscope Choir – I am always in a good mood after our noise making sessions …I just enjoy singing with a lovely group of local folks”
“I have learned so much from being in the Choir it has made me feel confident about my voice & singing to people.”
Buxton Festival continues to develop its partnership with The English Concert by once again hosting the Crazy Composers project in Buxton to coincide with the production of Tamerlano by Handel. This year the project focussed on involving as many children in the project as possible so as well as two schools in Buxton, two schools from Cheshire and two schools from Walsall were invited to take part. The project started with a CPD day for the six teachers at which the Crazy Composer project was introduced. The teachers were helped to develop skills and confidence to maximise the impact of the project. By working with their teachers and musicians from The English Concert the children discovered the world of classical music by learning about the composers, the instruments, meeting the musicians and working with a composer. The project culminated in a performance of The English Concert’s Crazy Composers Suite with new material created and performed by the children.
Buxton Festival is developing a relationship with Adullam Housing which provides supported accommodation in Buxton for young people aged 16 – 24. The young people are from a range of backgrounds and there are many different reasons that they need extras support. Festival artists worked with a group of young people on a pilot project this year to see how an arts project might help them with the transition to adult life. Music and drama activities were used to develop life skills such as self-confidence and team-work and gave the young people a fun experience of which they could feel proud. The creative session was followed by a debrief session at which the group discussed how a future project might look. The Festival aims to build on this pilot work and to continue working with this important group in the Buxton community in the future.
Musicians from the Northern Chamber Orchestra delighted children from Harpur Hill Primary School with a performance of Stanley’s Stick. The musical version of this engaging picture book written by poet John Hegley was commissioned by Buxton Festival several years ago and is a great ongoing resource to use to encourage children and their families and teachers to read and sing. The children were delighted to have a go at conducting the musicians, feel the vibrations on the back of the double bass, and pretend to play imaginary saxophones.
Young Artists Programme
This year seven young singers were awarded a Young Artist placement with Buxton Festival. As well the important learning experience of performing in the Festival opera, the young artists benefitted from coaching and mentoring from Festival artists and performers.
Matthew Nuttall Baritone – ‘Being a Young Artist has had many rewards for me; the whole process has been fantastic and I have gained so much experience in the last month, watching, listening to and being involved with the production. My time at Buxton has been one I’ll never forget.’
Matt Mears Tenor – ‘The Young Artist Programme at Buxton Opera Festival has been an amazing experience this summer. The opportunity to be involved in a professional production, working with such talented performers, production team and staff, is invaluable to us as young performers.’
This year Buxton Festival offered placements to seven young people to act as Festival Interns. The interns work with the Festival team to deliver a range of events. Their duties include stewarding, event management, back-stage work, concert management, admin in the Festival office and much more. Some of the interns also run the opera surtitles, a skilled and crucial role.
Olivia O’Connell – ‘I have learnt a huge amount about the development of the Festival. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience as a Festival intern; one I will cherish forever.’
Festival for a Fiver
129 people aged under 30 were able to attend Buxton Festival events for just £5 this July as part of the ongoing campaign to encourage a wider audience to the Festival. The Festival proud to be able to continue to offer high quality opera, music and literature to young people without any financial barriers.
High Peak Community Arts
Buxton Festival worked in partnership with High Peak Community Arts again this year. By collaborating on several projects, both organisations are able to spread their outreach work further and to involve more people. Highlights included a day of family storytelling in the magical storytelling yurt, a series of creative sessions in libraries in Buxton, New Mills and Gamesley and the Tall Tales youth drama project which culminated with a stunning promenade performance at Pooles Cavern in Buxton.
Live Music Now!
144 children with special educational needs attended Buxton Festival’s annual Live Music Now concert this year. The children travelled from schools in Tameside, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire to hear the music of Trio Volant. As the concert is held in a large venue with flexible seating the children and their teachers and carers are encouraged to move around the space if they need to and enjoy the music in a way in which they are comfortable. After the concert the children enjoyed a picnic is the Pavilion Gardens in the sunshine.
500 poems were submitted to the Buxton Poetry Competition this year. The theme of Hidden attracted entries from poets young and old from across the country. The competition continues to also attract poems from across the globe including India, the USA, Slovenia, Italy and Brazil. The competition judge Matt Black was very impressed with the quality and range of entries. The competition winners will be announced in November at the Buxton Festival Book Weekend, where winners will read their successful poems.
Students from Buxton’s two secondary schools—Buxton Community School and St Thomas More Catholic School—took part in a one-day workshop with Buxton Poetry Competition judge Matt Black. The young people spent the day creating some fantastic poems on the theme of Hidden which they entered into Buxton Poetry Competition’s Young People’s Category.