Workshops linked to Hugh the Drover supported by the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
NSO's last series of workshops began in early October 2010 when more than one hundred and ten children from a cluster of six junior schools came together at Uckfield Community Centre for an introductory session for the Hugh the Drover project. The day was led by conductor Nicholas Jenkins and director Michael Moxham, with a team including pianist Philip Sear, assistant director Natalie York, soloists including Grant Doyle and some members of NSO chorus. Weekly workshops and rehearsals followed, based in two of the schools and a number of the children appeared on stage in the performances.
Before the Eastbourne performance of Falstaff NSO ran an afternoon workshop with a rather different audience. This time the team was at The Venton Centre to work with over 60 members of the three Eastbourne branches of the University of the Third Age together with Age Concern, who hosted the event at their headquarters.
Linked to NSO's productions of Lucia di Lammermoor and Falstaff were workshops at Cavendish School, Eastbourne run by director Michael Moxham and conductor Bruno Cinquegrani. Four students from the school actually appeared in the productions, while another helped with stage management. Kieran Baker appeared in the acting role of The Page in Falstaff, and was given a very prominent part in NSO's production.
We feel that these workshops are a very important part of what we do. We have achieved a lot on a very limited budget. With more funds we could achieve even more: if you would like to support what we do, please contact us or make a donation online!
Comments from children who took part:
"Ellie found the opera fun but had a sore throat afterwards.
Callum thought it was great and more fun than he thought it would be.
I thought that it was going to be quite scary being on stage but when I did get on stage it felt awesome.
I felt overwhelmed by all the noise and lights at first but then I got used to it…I had the time of my life at the opera and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Comments from some of their parents:
Charlotte loved every minute of it. Performance blew us away.
We had never been to an opera. It was fantastic.
She loved it. She only wishes she could do more.
He had a fantastic time. An amazing experience to have the opportunity to perform with professional singers and a live orchestra in the theatre.
I had never been to an opera and I was a little apprehensive about following the story but I need not have worried.
Workshops linked to Mireille supported by the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
Anyone wandering into the Uckfield Civic Centre one morning in October could not help but ask what was
going on. “Stamping and prancing, jumping and dancing, let each girl and boy share our happiness and
joy” sung and danced with great enthusiasm by sixty or so children of Framfield and Blackboys Primary
Schools and the Brighton Stagecoach. They were there to explore and then to create their own version of
Mireille, and some of them went on to take part in the performances of Mireille.
Musical director Nick Jenkins and director Tony Baker from the start had the children singing and acting by
taking on the roles of the main characters. It did not matter that there were so many girls playing the role
of Mireille at various times, while numerous boys wanted the chance to be Vincent; there were parts for
Caroline Pope choreographed the farandole and the children had enormous fun as they sang and danced
around the hall. They talked about how the mood of the music would change to match the story, and they
discussed the emotional impact of combining music with words. Susan Bain at the piano magnificently
substituted for the orchestra, and NSO chorus members helped with the singing.
After lunch there was a short concert given by Michael Scott, who had just flown in from America and who
sings Vincent. Also singing were two soloists from NSO - Thalie Knights, who is the shepherdess, and Red
The day finished with a very lively performance of the farandole to a delighted audience of parents. ‘Good
fun’ said one girl as she left, ‘it was amazing’, while one of the boys described it as ‘fantastic’.
Director Michael Moxham and conductor Nicholas Jenkins ran workshops and rehearsals for students at Priory School, Lewes and Ringmer Community College before the production of Tobias and the Angel. The children's chorus for the opera was then formed from those students, and they performed in all seven venues during the tour.
Workshops linked to Edgar supported by the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
On October 3 2012 the Uckfield Civic Centre was again the venue for the first workshop before rehearsals
began for the Children’s Chorus for NSO’s production of Edgar. About seventy children from primary
schools in Framfield, Blackboys, Firle and Lewes took part. Some of them went on to take part in the
performances of Edgar. Several of them told us that they were thrilled be there, because they had older
siblings who had taken part in previous NSO workshops.
After a warm-up and some games musical director Nick Jenkins and guest director Olly Platt soon had the
children singing and acting by taking on the roles of the main characters. They learnt to sing the “Spring
song” from Edgar in Italian (O fior del giorno). After a break Nick and Olly told them the story of the opera
in an interactive way, and they then staged the “Spring Song” scene, with Rachel Rogers singing the part
of Fidelia, joined by other members of the NSO Chorus and with Lesley-Ann Sammons at the piano.
After lunch there was a short concert given by dramatic soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers. She sang “Pace,
pace” from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino before finally everyone performed the Act 1 scene from Edgar
already rehearsed, with Gweneth singing her role of Tigrana.