Classical Music Update: High tide

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The Independent Culture
A new high-water mark in British music education? On Friday, delegates attending the Association of British Orchestras' annual conference in Newcastle will sample the first fruits of a mammoth pounds 300,000 schools project, 'The Turn of the Tide', initiated by the ABO and involving 16 British orchestras in 38 concerts across the country over the next few months. To affirm the new opportunities presented by the National Curriculum's performance and composition objectives, the ABO commissioned Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to write a new work on an environmental theme to provide the entree for orchestral players to work in local schools alongside often non- specialist staff. What emerged was The Turn of the Tide, a five- movement piece highlighting the threat to plant life from pollution. Orchestras have leapt to encourage their players to help children compose and perform music for the interludes between the movements. 'The imagination they've shown has been tremendous,' says project co-ordinator Kathryn McDowell. 'The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, for example, has homed in on the ecological theme by breaking up an old Volkswagen beetle to recycle it into a gamelan-like instrument for use in performance.'

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