“… we have learnt about each other, ourselves and the communities in which we live”
The launch of our Christmas Challenge with the Big Give is only two weeks away! Through this initiative you can support some of our life-changing work with young people and adults with special educational needs across Tower Hamlets.
Workshop leader Zoë Palmer has been working with us as part of our Learning & Participation programme. She shares some of her memorable experiences working with students on the Tower Hamlets College Aspirations programme.
“Working with the Aspirations group over the past three years has been a rewarding experience. We have written songs about our hopes and dreams, and others inspired by Chinese teachings on the five elements. In the process we have learnt about each other, ourselves and the communities in which we live. What’s great about this group is the spirit of playfulness they embody during the workshops. One person who particularly comes to mind is Margaret, an older woman who has been working with us from the very beginning. She sings everything with inspiring energy and commitment – and always takes a moment to walk around the room at the end of the session to thank us all individually, and to express her enthusiasm for the music we’ve created. Another enriching aspect of this project has been our work with Ellie Rees who has worked with the group to create some wonderful visuals to run alongside the music, this has allowed us to explore blending colour, light and sound, whilst getting our hands messy and having a whole lot of fun in the process!”
Our challenge is to raise £72,000 to make sure that we can continue to work with these extraordinary people in 2012. You can make a difference by donating with the Big Give on Monday 5 December from 10am onwards. If you do so, the Big Give will match your donation – pushing us closer to our target.
As Learning & Participation Intern, the first part of the Winter Festival, for me, was focused on the L&P events. The week began with the daily staff briefing and all the abbreviations on the fat schedule suddenly became identifiable people! The mood of the office changed slightly as passing ships ran about their tasks and as the tempo increased, so did the bonhomie.
Winter Songs Image: Celine Smith
On Tuesday, I was dressed in the obligatory thermal layers for Winter Songs in the market. The performance involved more than 150 participants ranging from 6 to 60+ years. A lot of fun and a great sense of pride by everyone.
On Wednesday, the stunning Monteverdi’s Madrigals and Fables based on the story of Orpheus with 60 school children was fantastic. Sam Glazer and his team inspired the children to sing by heart and with heart the pieces they had composed over the course of the term – in unison, in parts and even with some audience participation.
Spitalfields Soundings in the market on Thursday evening attracted a large group despite the freezing temperatures. The two lively bands on stage inspired some energetic bobbing about in the market by audience members. The more intimate venue in Teasmith was perfect for the two solo performers who ended their gig with a fab jamming duet.
Soundings Image: Celine Smith
But for me, the most moving concert was Aspirations on Friday. A group of adult students from Tower Hamlets College performed songs they had composed with an exciting group of incredibly dedicated musicians who demonstrated such sensitivity to the participants as they encouraged and motivated them. Their theme was the Chinese five elements (fire, earth, metal, water and wood) – a wonderful end to my first encounter with the Festival.
The Winter Festival starts today! We cornered Programme Directors Kate Wyatt (Festivals) and Clare Lovett (Learning & Participation) and asked them about what goes into programming the Winter Festival and Learning & Participation events. Listen for a sneak preview of Winter Festival artists, Club Moxie (Aspirations programme students) and Fables – a Film Opera.