Performers rock to the beat

4th July 2003 at 01:00
Music and sculpture recently combined in a venture which proved really exciting for 29 students in our Year 8. Yorkshire Sculpture Park's composer-in-residence Nigel Morgan shared a wonderful opportunity to bring to life a rediscovered score for a percussive ensemble, entitled "Rhythm of the Stones". It was written by Priaulx Rainier for her close friend, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, whose centenary is being celebrated this year.

Half the group worked on learning and performing the music, and half created instruments that would produce the percussive sounds Rainier intended to reflect Hepworth's work as she chiselled her marble forms. The five instruments they made borrow shapes from the sculptor's works.

We knew it would be a challenging piece to teach. Some students read the conventional notation, but we also renotated the score in various ways, including numbers and charts.

The project culminated in a procession around the Sculpture Park one Saturday afternoon in June, with students singing and playing "Rhythm of the Stones" to an audience of guests, parents and the general public. We were fortunate to have the full support of departments across the school and were able to take students out of curriculum classes for several sessions for rehearsals and recording.

Phil Needham, head of music, and Phil Butterfield, head of drama, Wakefield City High School, Wakefield

Music Subject Focus, pages 32-37

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