Ory’s Story – the composition project at Addey & Stanhope Secondary School

As part of Blackheath Halls Opera, Trinity Laban’s Learning & Participation (Music) department led a compostion project entitled Ory’s Story, at Addey & Stanhope School, a secondary school in Deptford, in the summer term leading up to the performances of The Adventures of Count Ory at Blackheath Halls.

Ory’s Story

Written by Anna Wyatt – Graduate Intern in the Learning & Participation (Music) department of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Project Manager of the Composition Project as part of the Blackheath Halls Opera

On Tuesday 15th July, 26 musical pupils from Addey & Stanhope Secondary School spent the day in Blackheath Halls, rehearsing a piece of new material that they had devised in response to the opera Count Ory. They would be performing their work that afternoon in front of a VIP audience, just before the opening night of Count Ory, as part of the Blackheath Halls Opera project.

Despite living in the area, many of the participants had never set foot in Blackheath Halls before. Upon arriving they were hushed with anticipation – this was to be the grand hall they would perform in later that day. Project leader Joe Townsend began the day by explaining to the group that he would be treating them like a professional cast, an exciting opportunity for the students which they responded to with energy and maturity. Each of the songs had been written by the group, with help from Joe and two Trinity Laban student assistants. Different members of the group felt a certain pride for the songs they had contributed towards and this shone through in the delivery of the music.

The biggest challenge of the day was the staging. The group was required to transfer the material they had devised in their music classroom at school to the space inside Blackheath Halls, with only a short amount of time to do so. Joe spent time with the participants thinking about the best way to go about this, and provided suggestions of what he felt would work. However, some members of the group were not fans of these suggestions and were not shy to vocalise these thoughts. The next challenge was to change this contribution from negative criticism (“this staging is rubbish”), to constructive criticism (“this staging is rubbish and I think this will improve it”), a process of thinking that I hope will help our group of students in many aspects of their lives to come.’

A huge thank you from Blackheath Halls Opera to Anna Wyatt and Helen Hendry of Trinity Laban’s Laarning & Participation (Music) department for organising the workshops and to Joe Townsend for leading the workshops with such enthusiasm!

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One thought on “Ory’s Story – the composition project at Addey & Stanhope Secondary School

  1. Thanks so much, Anna, for this account of Ory’s Story and your day at Blackheath Halls on 15 July. This composition project is so much better integrated into Blackheath Halls Opera now that we hold this rehearsal and performance in the real performing space. Although I sadly missed the final performance because of our interview with Radio 3’s In Tune I very much enjoyed the run through that I watched earlier in the day. The material that had been devised was really interesting and imaginative and Joe was giving an excellent lead to the students on how to communicate their work to an audience.

    Rose Ballantyne

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