An Arts Council grant is helping a spin-off quartet from the City of Birmingham Orchestra to educate children about the First World War.
The Stringcredibles are playing a series of autumn dates across the Midlands using images from the Imperial War Museum as a visual backdrop to their musical interpretation of the conflict.
Featuring author-approved excerpts from Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed novel, War Horse, and from the award winning book, Archie’s War by Marcia Williams, Tunes From The Trenches is aimed at junior schools and families with children aged from seven to 11.
Timothy Jackson has been commission to arrange the songs and a new song called We Will Remember Them has been written by Rebecca Lawrence.
The performance themes include how the war started, comradeship, international alliances and there’s even a quiz about whether various pieces are happy or sad to keep youngsters on their toes.
The Stringcredibles are comprised of Amy Fawcett (viola), Helen Edgar (cello) and violinists Bryony Morrison and Catherine Arlidge.
Last January Catherine became the first violinist – and only the third ever recipient – of the Royal Philharmonic Society and The Association of British Orchestras’ Salomon Prize, a prestigious award celebrating the outstanding contribution of orchestral players to the UK’s musical life.
A first class honours graduate and instrumental scholar from New College Oxford, Bryony completed her Masters studies at the Royal Academy of Music and is currently a member of the CBSO.
Bryony said: “We thought that using music, art and stories would be a great way of children learning – and never forgetting – about the First World War.
“Music is everyone’s first language but after including a minute’s silence, the hardest thing we had to do was to find a way of ending the show.
“The First World War cost the lives of more than eight million soldiers but we wanted to find a way of working our way back up to being happy and joyful.
“So we go from The Last Post played on viola into the best songs of the period, from Over The Top to Pack Up Your Troubles and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.”
One piece of music is actually from the Second World War, but Bryony said the reaction of children to it means that its inclusion was essential.
“The look on their faces when they hear String Quartet No 8 by Shostakovich is like: ‘Wow... that’s scary music’,” says Briony.
“It really shows how music can change the way we feel.
“Another piece, called Over There is familiar to children through a Go Compare advert – it illustrates the nature of propaganda, telling 17-year-old to go and fight.”
Other featured music ranges from the carol Silent Night to Rihanna’s Only Girl (In The World), Vaughn Williams’ Seventeen Come Sunday and Elgar’s Salut d’Amour.
The project is in partnership with the Marches Network, supported by Arts Council England, through an award from the National Lottery funded, Grants for the Arts scheme and extra dates are being added for the first three months of 2015.
For more details about The Stringcredibles, visit www.thestringcredibles.com
November 6, 10.30am: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts – sold out.
November 7, 9.30am and 11am: Library of Birmingham – sold out.
November 7, 2pm: Black Country Living Museum.
November 8, 11.30am: Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum
November 9, noon and 2pm: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
November 11, 10.30am and 1pm: Walsall Leather Museum
November 12, 10.30am and 1pm: Elgar Birthplace Museum
November 13, 10.30am and 1pm: Bantock House
November 14, 10.30am and 1pm: The Museum of Cannock Chase
Dec 4, 10.30am: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
To book free places at BMAG please call 0121 348 8038. For Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum call 01905 25371.