Education Project
This year, as part of our ongoing commitment to education work, we are extending our exciting and innovative "Air" project celebrating Robert Burns' 250th anniversary.

In November 2009 we give the world premiere of a new piece at the Sound Festival. The piece is based on his air "By yon castle wa' at the close of the day" a haunting text and tune featuring variations commissioned specially from leading UK composers such as Sally Beamish, John Casken, Jacques Cohen, Joe Cutler, Peter Fribbins, Stephen Goss, Piers Hellawell, Robin Ireland, Julian Jacobson, James MacMillan, Zoe Martlew and Francis Pott.

We are offering school and college students the exciting opportunity to participate in the Air project by composing their own variation and performing it with the Primrose Quartet.

We tailor each workshop & performance to the specific needs and abilities of the school or college concerned, working to produce short compositions with groups of pupils on whatever instruments are available that will then be performed as integral parts of the professional composition.

When we visit schools as part of a concert tour, the workshops are out of necessity, short enough to fit into one session, typically taking approximately 1 ½ -2 hours. Where circumstances permit, we can also offer a series of visits.
We send out the full text and music or the Air in advance of our visit to enable teachers to incorporate it into any relevant studies such as art work, poetry, history and music, and to allow pupils time to understand the text and be inspired to create their own music, art or literature. We would be then led by these responses in our workshop, each one of the Quartet leading a group of pupils for 30-45 mins (according to the school’s timetable) in creating a short piece based on the Air. After a small break, we then re-convene and perform the four compositions within the existing work. This can either be done with an audience of parents or other classes, or just as a school workshop.

For primary schools, we usually expect to use any available instruments such as chime bars or drums etc. or singing, to create soundscapes inspired by the air. Workshop sessions and performances kept to a length appropriate to their attention span.

In secondary schools, a more sophisticated approach is usually more appropriate, drawing on GCSE or A level requirements such as a basic knowledge of specialist musical terms, harmony and composition.

Where there is a strong presence of more advanced performers or composers a more individual approach specific to their needs would be used by in the workshops. In these cases we would invite students to study the existing variations and to contribute their own, which would then be worked on with the Quartet and performed in the concert. With more advanced players we offer “Primrose plus” in which players would actually rehearse and perform as part of the group. The Air project also complements studies on traditional music, and any contributions from pipers, fiddlers and dancers would be greatly welcomed.

We also continue to provide our standard education workshop presentation that does not require advance planning on the part of the school; in this we introduce students to live classical chamber music with demonstrations of each instrument, short performances and Q&A sessions. This requires approximately one hour per group and the use of a Piano or good quality full sized keyboard.
By Yon Castle