Students from Churchill and Worle Academies take their bow with the Asana Quartet and composer, Sadie Harrison

One of Churchill Music’s flagships is our Joint Composition Project, a 6-week introduction to composition for string quartet involving students in years 9 and 10. Taking part this year were Churchill and Worle Academies. Schools in North Somerset are welcome to apply to join the project which is held in the Autumn. The composer-in-residence this year was Sadie Harrison, with the extra bonus of three visits from the Asana String Quartet – led by Jenni Curriel.

The well attended audience were treated to a wide range of witty, emotional, lively and more relaxing works composed either by individual students or groups of two or three. The students introduced their works with justified pride. The range of emotions expressed and the creativity demonstrated was inspirational.

Sadie Harrison commented afterwards, “What an incredible term I have had working alongside the splendid Asana String Quartet and young composition students at Churchill Academy and Worle School. I have been very lucky to have visited many schools as composition mentor and can honestly say that I have rarely encountered such a motivated and open-minded bunch. The composers produced a set of extraordinarily sophisticated works that happily embraced a range of styles, from sultry tangos, lyrical waltzes and foot-stomping jigs to a whirling Afghan atan dance and a challenging contemporary dance piece. Given that some students were not music readers or performers when they started, the quality of the works produced really was quite outstanding. At a time when music in schools is being decimated, the support of Churchill Music is absolutely vital. Having spent many years working with young musicians from Afghanistan, helping to rejuvenate music after it was banned by the Taliban, I have seen first hand how this fundamental means of human expression rebuilds lives and breaks down barriers. It is no less true for the young people in UK schools – music is a right not a privilege. BRAVO to the students and staff at Worle and Churchill schools and to the Asana Quartet for putting this into practise, quite simply making the world a better place.

Emma Burlinson of Worle Academy wrote,
What an amazing evening!! I am always truly amazed by the work that is produced by the students and both myself and Miss Anning had a wonderful time.
There was such a variety of music and styles and it was lovely to hear the completed pieces played so wonderfully by the string quartet. 
This was Miss Annings first event with our school and as a composer herself she was very excited to hear the pieces. She believes the standard of work and the creativeness of the pieces was as good as some compositions heard at first year of university
Thank you so much for inviting us to be a part of the project again. It has really helped to keep my keen year 9 musicians stretched and feel valued. 

A member of the leadership team came to the event as one of her daughters was involved and she was blown over by the quality of work from both schools.  Thank you once again for this amazing opportunity and for being so welcoming. 

Churchill’s Paul Harrison (no relation to composer, Sadie Harrison) had done a survey of the results of past projects which demonstrated that many students who took part in this project, now in its ninth year, went on to choose to write for a quartet for their GCSE coursework and had received excellent grades.

We are delighted that this project highlights the importance of chamber music and gives the students such an in-depth understanding of the genre.

For more information on music at Churchill Academy, Head teacher Chris Hildrew’s blog is well worth a read!

Young Composers’ skills rise to new heights in their Showcase finale with the Asana String Quartet