One of the Three Choirs Festival’s core aims is to create musical experiences and opportunities that do not ordinarily exist in our region, and to that end we are developing a year-round participation programme in the local community which ties in with a major event at the festival each year. Working with schools, colleges, and local businesses where possible, we hope to show that classical music is something which is open to all and ensure that future generations will grow up loving music and knowing it is something for them.

In Gloucester 2019, the festival linked up with the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport where thousands of children were brought to safety in the UK from Nazi Germany. Last Train to Tomorrow by Carl Davis, a song cycle about the Kindertransport sung and acted from the children’s perspective, was performed at the festival, involving young people from all around the county. Inspired by a line from the work, the festival launched a project titled #whereismyhome celebrating communities in Gloucester, the UK and beyond by asking what home meant to them. These labels formed an installation in the cathedral on the day of the performance.

Gaspard’s Foxtrot was our featured performance for Worcester 2021, the story of a fox who has an adventure on a London bus and ends up as the star of a concert, set to music and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra. Leading up to the festival, schools across Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcestershire were invited to take part in a week of activities surrounding Gaspard and promoting music, art, and writing. At the festival performance, young children and their friends and families were greeted by conductor Alice Farnham and the Philharmonia players and introduced to Gaspard by broadcaster and author Zeb Soanes and illustrator James Mayhew, who joined us remotely from his studio. Children and adults alike were enthralled from start to finish thanks to Jonathan Dove’s exciting score, Zeb Soanes’ captivating storytelling and James Mayhew’s enchanting and ingenious live illustration.

Gaspard the Fox Illustration
Gaspard the Fox Credit: James Mayhew 2020

Future plans for 2022 include a project with author and illustrator James Mayhew exploring music and storytelling with Hereford community groups, and a schools’ programme with saxophonist Amy Dickson to support good breathing and wellbeing. An ambitious three-county creative journey will launch in October 2022, running through to the 2023 festival in Gloucester to mark the 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ birth with composer Liz Lane.

If you are a school or community group who’d like more information about how to get involved or would like to receive teaching resources linked to our projects, please join our participation mailing list.

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Last Train to Tomorrow performance
Last Train to Tomorrow - A Cantata for children's choir by Carl Davis Credit: Michael Whitefoot 2019