Local children enjoy singing workshop in celebration of Clare

20 October 2009

Children from the John Clare and Peakirk-cum-Glinton Church of England Primary Schools took part in a singing workshop on Sunday (18 October) as part of a weekend of celebratory events dedicated to the work of poet John Clare, hosted by the UK arm of Cambridge Assessment, exam board OCR in support of the John Clare Trust and Clare Cottage. Suzi Whiting, Deputy Head of Peakirk-cum-Glinton School, commented: "This was a great chance for the children to sing with adults."

The Singing Workshop gave local children the chance to sing together with an experienced mixed-voice choir, the Granta Chorale. Fun vocal warm-ups, music games and songs highlighted the rural background and life of John Clare as well as more contemporary aspects of the countryside and the environment. The children explored vocal percussion and use bird sounds to make some new music. The emphasis was firmly on having fun while using your voice. Later in the afternoon the children joined younger children and their siblings and parents for a short performance of the work they have been doing. The music included a piece by the workshop leader, Janet Wheeler, called ‘John Clare the poet (and fiddler!)’ adapted from a traditional Swedish song.

Martin Fry, Head of John Clare Primary School, said: "It's been brilliant to bring the two communities together and the workshop introduced some really wonderful songs."

Clare Taylor, a teacher at John Clare Primary School, added: "It was nice for the children to feel celebrated as being connected to John Clare the poet"

Other events over the weekend included (on Saturday 17 October) an opportunity for invited guests to join Greg Watson, Chief Executive of OCR (the UK arm of Cambridge Assessment), and Barry Sheerman MP, Chairman of the John Clare Trust - to tour the recently restored John Clare Cottage, Clare’s birthplace and home for 40 years, and to explore the church and village of Helpston. An evening concert, ‘Clare’s Calendar – rhythms of a rural life’ took place in Glinton Church and featured choral director and composer, Janet Wheeler and her chamber choir, the Granta Chorale, performing pieces reflecting Clare’s life and his love of the countryside including works by Vaughan Williams, Britten and Eric Whitacre. The programme also included readings of Clare’s poetry by Ingrid Soren and the first performance of Janet Wheeler’s own ‘Time Becomes a Song’ a new setting of five John Clare works. Some 80 local guests attended including local councillors, secondary school and college heads, musicians, writers and representatives from regional creative industries.