The World in Folk Song

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Bach Choir 7-6-13-6463The climax of The Bach Choir Outreach Project’s 2012/13 season was a concert of folk songs in St John’s Smith Square, conducted by our Musical Director, David Hill.

More than 150 children took part, with some 100 members of The Bach Choir and professional musicians Philip Scriven at the piano and Dan Swana, Matthew Green and Tim Houston forming a jazz trio.

The programme of folk songs was largely devised by Gwyn Arch, a vastly experienced arranger and conductor, especially of children’s choirs. Gwyn wanted as much interaction between the children and The Bach Choir as possible, and his intricate arrangements were quite challenging for the children who had to learn everything by heart.

Gwyn Arch’s arrangements included a number of solos for the children as well as for members of The Bach Choir. Some of the children were nervous at first, but they performed well on the night and their success has encouraged others to say they think they could do it too.


Each school was invited to perform a number on its own. Four of the seven schools did so and did well. Again, some of those that didn’t manage to rehearse and perform a piece of their own have seen that others can do it.

The concert was enormously well received by the audience, consisting mainly of parents and teachers, particularly the last number, Cockles and Mussels, when the audience joined in the encore and the children began bopping, Proms-style, to the music. We realised early on that the support of parents is crucial in ensuring the success of our Outreach Project and this concert saw a marked increase in the number of parents attending.

Another encouraging sign was the increase in the number of children taking part from one particular school that had been in difficulty: it had been given notice to improve by the inspectors and its music specialist had left. Very few of its children took part in last year’s concert, but this year, thanks largely to the enthusiasm and determination of the deputy head, four or five times as many did.


What parents had to say

“This is a great thing for children. My daughter loves it and her confidence has grown so a huge thank you for your effort and time.”

“This has been an amazing experience for my daughter and has helped her immensely when she has been feeling glum. She has very much looked forward to this performance and as a spectator it was fabulous.”

“I think it has been a great opportunity for my son to participate in tonight’s performance with such a renowned choir. Thank you.”

“Excellent performance. Brought tears to my eyes!”


Bach Choir 7-6-13-6423What teachers had to say

“Learning from and working with such a renowned and well respected choir was a fantastic opportunity for our pupils. The standard of the concert was exceptionally high and provided our children with an opportunity to sing with a range of other school choirs.” Deputy Head

“The Bach Choir project has brought such joy into our school. Having the members of the choir sing for (and with) the children has been absolutely inspiring. The year-long nature of the project means there is real progression and a more meaningful musical experience for all.”  Music Specialist

“Overall – increased enthusiasm for singing, better behaviour, social interaction and language. Keen to talk about the whole experience and excited about taking part again.”  Deputy Head

“Excellent for the children to see and hear the choir in action and to sing along with them having the feeling that they were making the amazing sound.”  Music Specialist


What members of The Bach Choir had to say

“It was a fantastic occasion, great to get involved with the local community in this way. I’m proud that alongside our more highbrow concerts we make this effort to make music more accessible and create a way to bring a community together. The applause was memorable!”

“The Outreach Project gives the BC the opportunity to look outwards, to connect with and add something to the community where we are based. Our outreach concerts are a much better reflection of our multicultural society and it is good for us as individuals and as an organisation to engage with the broader community than is possible with our regular concert season (because of ticket prices and programming).”


Bach Choir 7-6-13-6407-3The schools involved were:

Our Lady of Dolours RC Primary

Burdett-Coutts & Townshend CE Primary

King Solomon Academy Primary

Middle Row Primary

St Mary’s RC Primary

St Thomas’ CE Primary

St Cuthbert’s with St Matthias Primary


A total of 157 children took part in the ‘World in Folk Song’ concert on 7th June 2013