Sali-Wyn Ryan (Second Violin) reflects on Celebration of the Sea

I feel thoroughly privileged to have been part of this highly successful project with RPO resound in Lowestoft. The week quickly evolved into an exploration of local history and nautical adventures which provided the foundation for our musical voyage. We soon found ourselves immersed in sessions of boat-related brainstorming, fishermen’s tales and instrumental challenges!

The participants were from a huge variety of backgrounds – ranging from experienced choir members to people that had never before played certain instruments – and had a wide array of skills. Focusing on stories, facts and faces from the Mincarlo Trawler and Maritime museum, we devised three pieces of music to be performed at the end of the week, alongside the work of local writer Dean Parkin. The group responded with amazing enthusiasm from day one and, encouraged by our fantastic workshop leader, Jason Rowland; my RPO colleagues and I felt fully confident we could deliver what proved to be a unique musical experience for all involved.

Our three pieces developed gradually as a series of stories, melodies, words and rhythms – influenced by interpretations of fishermen’s lives, boat names, lifeboat heroes and the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Lowestoft. We spent time working separately with instrumentalists and singers to create evocative songs in which maritime heritage inspired musical experimentation. The daily progress of the group was inspiring and we had a huge amount of fun with the people involved.

Finally, verses and choruses were written, chords and rhythms mastered, melodies memorised, a new world of musical terminology discovered and performance outfits discussed! Both performances went incredibly well (I even had a blue violin to play!) and I felt so proud of the participants and of what we, as a group, had achieved together. We managed, miraculously, to fit on the upper deck of the Mincarlo Trawler and played to an appreciative audience on the quayside. Later in the day, we gave a repeat performance outside the Marina Theatre, just ahead of our RPO evening concert. Projects like this are so important as a way of bringing people together – thank you Lowestoft for a fantastic week! I’ll finish with one of the choruses we wrote, inspired by the proud and humble lifeboatmen.

“Siren sounds
Duty calls;
Striving always strong.
Humble men, saving lives
At sea where they belong.”

Tweets on performance day…


This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Suffolk Community Foundation Michael Ben Howes Fund.

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About Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Acknowledged as one of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) enjoys an international reputation for bringing audiences worldwide first-class performances and the highest possible standards of music-making across a diverse range of musical repertoire. This was the vision of the Orchestra’s flamboyant founder Sir Thomas Beecham, whose legacy is maintained today as the Orchestra thrives under the exceptional direction of its new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Maestro Charles Dutoit.
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