Celebration of the Sea: Day 3

Workshops on Wednesday allowed the music and writing groups and artists to continue creating and revising their pieces.

Local resident and music participant Delia gives us an update on her group’s progress:

“I arrived on Monday really unsure about what to expect, but I knew that even if I had to make the tea, I wasn’t going to miss this chance of a lifetime.

“I sing in a choir normally and we sing for our health and joy, but I’ve never done any creative composition like this before, and it’s absolute magic. We’re putting together songs by writing words, creating sentences and trying to find the best melodies to present our messages. We’re working on three quite nice pieces; one is about the battle of the sea, one is about Lowestoft harbour and a fisherman, and the last one is about the lifeboatmen working to save lives.

“There’s a lot of history behind the pieces that people may not know or have heard before, so this is a chance for us to share the history with them. I’m absolutely looking forward to performing them on Friday.”

After only one more day of workshops to practise these pieces on Thursday, these original songs, along with poems written by the creative writing groups, will be performed in two performances on Friday: at 1.00pm aboard the Mincarlo Trawler and at 6.45pm outside the Marina Theatre, ahead of the RPO’s sea-themed concert.


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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Celebration of the Sea: Day 2

On Tuesday morning, creative writer Dean Parkin visited the 60+ Club in downtown Lowestoft to chat with members about the area’s sea heritage and to receive their help devising a short poem about their memories. To get people talking, we brought along two reminiscence boxes featuring objects from the Lowestoft Maritime Museum, such as old photographs of skippers, knitting needles and fishing nets of various sizes and heavy duty raincoats, amongst others.

Most of the people in attendance had fathers or older siblings who worked in the fishing industry years ago, so we heard many expert accounts of what each of the tools in the box were used for and even watched demonstrations of how to tie various fishing knots!

After speaking to individuals and small groups to hear about their memories of Lowestoft’s fishing heyday, Dean asked the whole group to help him write a poem all at once. There was a bit of enthusiastic chaos, with people shouting out words and ideas, but by putting together phrases and snippets of memories from all the participants, a poem slowly emerged, called That’s What the Sea Is.

After a rousing group performance, it was time for lunch.

This poem, and other poems written by other local groups, will be incorporated into the music and word performances on Friday aboard the Mincarlo and outside the Marina Theatre.


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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Celebration of the Sea: Day 1

Monday was a busy day for the Celebration of the Sea group with special access visits to two local heritage sites and a brainstorming session bringing together participants from a variety of backgrounds for the first time to explore Lowestoft’s relationship with the sea.

Creative writing participant and local resident Anne, had the following to say about the day: “I was thrilled to receive an open invitation to write and do music with the finest people around, organised by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I have had an amazing day with these people visiting the Mincarlo Trawler and learning about life at sea. After the Trawler, we visited the Lowestoft Maritime Museum where I found pictures of the Telesia LT1155, the old boat my Grandad sailed on, as well as images of the Spithead Review of ships in 1935 featuring King George V and Skipper Moxey. And to top it off we had a trip down memory lane riding around town on a double decker bus from the Lowestoft Transport Museum.

Anne Trawler enjoying the workshop, learning about life at sea.

Anne Trawler enjoying the workshop, learning about life at sea.

“I’m enjoying the writing side with Dean Parkin, our local professional writer and poet. He has already taught me so much, and the music team’s involvement is amazing; they are teaching us to put a piece of music together, right from scratch. They’re lovely people to work with.

Working on the group's piece of music.

Working on the group’s piece of music.

“I will certainly enjoy the next four days of creative work and am so looking forward to the final outcome of our music performance. It’s very, very interesting. If you ever have a chance to do this, you must!” Beginning Tuesday morning, participants will continue to work alongside the professional musicians and writer to devise their own music and words about the sea and what it means, and has meant to Lowestoft. In addition to our main core of local participants, words and memories are being gathered from older Lowestoft residents at the 60+ club and residents of Flagship’s Coppice Court, giving a wide range of perspectives about Lowestoft’s shore.


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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Celebration of the Sea: project preview

This week, three RPO musicians, a creative music leader and a creative writing leader will spend a week at the beach working with local adults to explore and celebrate the maritime heritage of the historic marina town of Lowestoft, Suffolk.

We’ll begin on Monday with visits to the Lowestoft Maritime Museum and Mincarlo Trawler, the last surviving sidewinder trawler in the area, for guided tours of their historic collections and sites. The group will then have a brainstorming session to pick out specific themes, objects or stories that really inspired them during the visits, which they will use as guides during the next three days of creative workshops.

Tuesday through Thursday will see around fifty adults take part in either creative music or writing workshops alongside the professional artists. We’ll have a wide range of perspectives with participants from local community music groups, Access Community Trust, the 60+ Club, Flagship Housing and other Lowestoft locals joining together to create pieces in response to Lowestoft’s relationship with the sea.

The week-long project will culminate on Friday with two public performances featuring the original compositions performed by participants: first aboard the Mincarlo Trawler for a lunchtime performance and again outside the Marina Theatre, ahead of the RPO’s thematically linked concert, Celebration of the Sea.

Throughout the week we’ll be sharing our progress with posts by artists, participants and audience members, so check back here for updates!

Find out more about our project events on the RPO website.
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Day 1:

Monday was a busy day for the Celebration of the Sea group with special access visits to two local heritage sites and a brainstorming session bringing together participants from a variety of backgrounds for the first time to explore Lowestoft’s relationship with the sea.

Read more about Day 1.


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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An Insight into The Bach Choir

Bach-Choir,-The-2015-848x40

Written by Hannah Nepil.

How do you sum up The Bach Choir in a nutshell? Answer: you can’t. Don’t let the title fool you – this 140-year-old ensemble reaches far beyond the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In June, The Bach Choir joins forces with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for one of the stalwart pillars of the repertory: Mendelssohn’s Elijah. In November, the ensembles celebrate John Rutter’s 70th birthday with the London premiere of his The Gift of Life: Six Canticles of Creation – conducted by the composer. Contemporary composers, from James MacMillan to Jonathan Dove, are regularly, and enthusiastically profiled. ‘The Bach Choir isn’t just about doing standard repertoire. It’s about doing new pieces that will extend the choral tradition,’ says Nick Cutts, the Choir’s General Manager.

Its members are similarly hard to categorise. ‘We have 260 people from all walks of life. From students to barristers and someone who’s in the House of Lords.’ But whatever their background or profession, ‘members come to rehearsals week in, week out, practise at home and reaudition every three years, so there’s a certain amount of dedication to being part of the Choir,’ says Cutts.

If that sounds gruelling, the perks are worth it. ‘For a lot of the singers, being part of the Choir means gaining something that they once lost. There are people who were singers in their early years, then had families and only found time to pick it up again later. One of our members has recently won a place on the Sixteen’s Genesis scheme, so The Bach Choir can lead to all sorts of things.’

Among them, rubbing noses with the Great and Good. ‘One of the most amazing concerts for me took place during Queen’s coronation anniversary celebrations at Buckingham Palace. We were there with Kiri Te Kanawa, Katherine Jenkins, Eric Whitacre and the entire household cavalry,’ reminisces Cutts, ‘and I’ve got some pictures of myself, Eric Whitacre and his wife all pulling silly faces at each other backstage. It just goes to show that you have that moment of absolute relaxation – then you hit the stage, and everything changes.’

Does Cutts ever perform with the Choir himself? ‘No no,’ he says. ‘I’m just a simple brass player. But organising a concert brings its own excitement: that feeling when something goes amazingly and the audience are loving it. For me, that’s what it’s all about.’

The Bach Choir performs the London premiere of John Rutter’s ‘The Gift of Life: Six Canticles of Creation’ at St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday 5 November 2015.

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