Music students from Lowestoft Sixth Form College have been working with the world-famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) to produce a series of concerts at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.  Nineteen students worked for three months alongside members of the orchestra to script, present, market, event manage, plan and run the technical side of things for the three concerts held on 23rd and 24th March.


The project began with students attending a rehearsal for the RPO’s ‘Music of John Williams’ concert at the Marina in November, as well as a performance from an octet of the RPO at a special, interactive concert at Ashley School.  In January the students began devising ideas for the concert they would produce, with assistance from members of the RPO, Orchestras Live and the tech and marketing teams at the Marina Theatre.  The theme they settled on was of an orchestral concert with a children’s story centred around a bee called Bumble interweaved between the pieces. The students also chose the music to be performed in the show, as well as its running order.


To produce the concert effectively, the students spilt into four teams – 3 event managers (Hayley Chambers, Hannah Jones & Eden Raven), 4 presenters/script writers (Bethany Grace, Ben Head, Rebecca Purvis & Chloe Smith), 5 marketing/promotion officers (Eryn Burgess, Emma Clayton, Cerys Chittenden, Lauren Gell & Amelia Grieff) and 7 technical staff (Jack Austin, Emily George, Joe George, Eloise King Dain Potter, Zac Smith & Madeleine Wright).


The presenters focused on writing the script for the show – the story of a bee called Bumble, who has aspirations of becoming an orchestral conductor.  Throughout the show Bumble would take on a series of challenges in order to gain the skills required to become an orchestral conductor.  The tech team learned a variety of roles, including stage lighting, spotlighting, sound, vision mixing, camera operating, and stage management.  The student marketing team worked with the Marina Theatre’s own marketing team to create promotional videos, posters, programmes and a social media presence.  Finally, the event managers ensured the smooth running of the event, co-ordinating between all three teams and the RPO.


After three months of hard work, the show produced by our students was finally presented to the public on 23rd March, with a host of pupils from local primary schools filling the spectator seats of the Marina Theatre.  The show followed Bumble (Chloe Smith) on her quest to become a conductor, to a soundtrack of sometimes raucous, sometimes gentle, but always riveting performances from the RPO.  The show culminated with our student Emma Clayton actually conducting the RPO’s performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ (after weeks of intense practice in conducting) in an expressive, highly-skilled and outstanding display of musical control.


After the event, Music teacher Guy Nottage commented on the project:

“I can honestly say that every single student involved in Sound Around 2018 excelled within their chosen role. From the incredible presenters who enraptured the audience from the first second of the show, to the tech team who made daunting, highly-skilled, professional roles look easy thanks to their teamwork – every single student was a credit to themselves and the college.  The marketing/front-of-house team displayed great creativity and professionalism during some rather intense, high-pressured situations before the shows, whilst the event managers simply made everybody’s job easier with their foresight, communication and commitment to the success of the show.


“Being given the opportunity to work so closely with a world-famous orchestra like the RPO was simply incredible – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students.  The RPO team were so accommodating, inspirational and helpful to the students, and it was evident from the outset that they were just as passionate about this show as we were. There’s been laughter, tears, inspired moments, heated creative arguments, moments of great pride and everything else you would expect from such a huge challenge along the way – but our students rose to that challenge with aplomb.  It was fantastic experience for all involved, and the final product was an incredible achievement – well done to every single student”.


Sound Around 2018 Programme:


Montagues & Capulets (composed by Prokofiev)

Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov)

Nimbus 2000 (Williams)

Fanfare for the Common Man (Copland)

Silent Woods (Dvořák)

Sound Around Anthem

Pirates of the Caribbean (Williams)

Star Wars Main Theme (Williams)

Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)

In the Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg)

Firebird Finale (Stravinsky)

Symphony No. 10, 2nd Movement (Shostakovich)