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June 5, 2015

Brighton Festival Chorus – Invictus Update

Invictus Education Day – Friday 24 April 2015
Click here for more information about the Brighton Festival Chorus and ‘Invictus’.

What began as a conversation with James and Gill in The Swan last September led, after a great deal of planning and what has seemed like hundreds of emails, to yesterday’s Education Day at BACA. In preparation for our upcoming Invictus Cantata for Liberty performance at the Dome in June, 150 Year 7 and 8 students from 5 local schools and members of our own youth choir took part in a series of drama, music and law workshops, relating to the Magna Carta, led by professionals from Chichester Festival Theatre, barrister Tom Godfrey and BFYC’s Music Director, Esther Jones.

The students were divided into 3 groups – Liberty, Freedom and Justice – to form a mix of all the schools and the youth choir. After a welcome briefing in the main hall the morning workshops commenced. BFYC trustees were assigned to each group. Mine was ‘Liberty’ and our first port of call was the drama and dance studios where the group was halved and led by our two drama practitioners, Jonty and Angela, from Chichester Festival Theatre. After some great ‘ice-breaker’ activities the students were asked what they thought ‘liberty’ represented – the responses were thoughtful and intelligent: women’s suffrage, the right to vote, racial equality, as well as examples of their own experiences of being trusted to act independently. Small groups then created a tableau to represent liberty, followed by discussion of the ‘story’ attached to each highly creative image. Likewise, the other drama groups carefully considered what the concepts of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Justice’ might have meant in the past, as well as in today’s society.

After a short break we moved on to our next workshop led by barrister, Tom Godfrey, who had taken time out from a murder trial in London to be with us. His fascinating talk about his work was interspersed with many questions from the young audience: ‘Do people have to do jury service?’ ‘What has been your weirdest/most interesting case?’ ‘What do you do if you think the person is guilty?’ The group was entertained by volunteers who dressed up in courtroom wigs and gowns and re-enacted a ‘mock trial’ based on Jack and the Beanstalk.

Our third and final workshop of the morning took place in BACA’s music room with Esther. After a short warm-up, including some excellent tips on producing a really good sound, various parts of Invictus were learnt and rehearsed. Composers James and Juliette came in to listen to the work in progress.

After returning to the hall for a short lunch break, James and Juliette spoke to all the students and answered questions such as ‘What do you have to do to become a composer?’ Esther then led the afternoon rehearsal with all the students which gave us an insight into how fantastic the performance in June is going to be.

All in all, a great day and one that we hope will be memorable for everyone involved.

Julie Emerton (BFYC trustee) 25/4/15



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