Kids turn composers

Flodden battle re-enactment weekend at Etal village. The Scots wait for another attack.
Flodden battle re-enactment weekend at Etal village. The Scots wait for another attack.

Schoolchildren in the Selkirk area are being given the chance to work with a leading composer and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The ‘Fletcher’s Ballad’ project aims to create a musical event to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden.

Pupils from Yarrow, Kirkhope, Philiphaugh, Knowepark, Lilliesleaf and St Joseph’s primary schools are involved in the project, along with Selkirk High School students.

The programme is being led by award-winning composer John Barber, with support from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Connect Fellow for 2013/14, Shiori Usui, who has had her works performed around the world.

Musicians from the orchestra will also be assisting, as will Ian Lowthian and Jenni Borthwick from Scottish Borders Council’s Youth Music Initiative.

The council’s executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, Councillor Vicky Davidson, explained: “Fletcher and his return from Flodden is an integral part of Selkirk’s history and it is exciting that pupils and young people in the area are getting the chance to participate in such an innovative musical project in this anniversary year.

“Not only will they be given the chance to work with professional musicians and composers, they will be doing so in a way that will develop their creativity, social skills and knowledge of local history.”

The project will start with inspirational visits to Abbotsford to learn about how Sir Walter Scott used items he collected to develop his own creative ideas.

Award-winning composer John Barber will then work with the pupils to develop a theme which will be used as the basis of the songs and music they will compose and eventually perform at a showcase event on November 1.

The culmination of the project will be the ‘Big Sing’, a collaborative performance in the Victoria Halls in Selkirk involving all the pupils.

It will take the form of a ballad which will tell the story of Flodden, with the pupils performing a number of songs interspersed with text.

Bristol-based composer John Barber has worked on a number of different education programmes and initiatives in the community, including a unique project creating lullabies on a post-natal ward at the Royal London Hospital with new parents.

Backing for the project is being provided by the council’s Creative Learning Team, based within arts development, who manage the Youth Music Initiative and work with schools and youth groups across the region to provide programmes for the benefit of children and young people.