Latest News and Updates

7 April 2016

We are featuring Cantate Youth Choir in our Close-Up series.

Name of Project: Stortford Sings for Friday Afternoons

Name of Group: Cantate Youth Choir

Date: 21st March 2016

Venue: Rhodes Arts Complex


Cantate Youth Choir were one of the Friday Afternoons Project Fund groups for 2015-16. As part of their project they invited local primary schools, Manuden and Northgate, to join their Training Choir (and newly formed Trainers Choir) to have a day of singing with a culmination event for their parents to come along to in the evening. The students sang some of Nico Muhly's songs as well as some of Benjamin Britten's original music. Students also played specially written percussion pieces that were inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's poetry. The concert was completely full, and a great success. Well done to everyone involved!

15 February 2016

We are thrilled to announce that Jonathan Dove will be writing a new set of songs for this year’s Friday Afternoons project, set to specially commissioned texts by Alasdair Middleton. These songs will be released in April, so keep an eye out on our website! Scores, backing tracks and resources will be available on the website free of charge, to support learning of the songs.

‘Not since Benjamin Britten has a British composer succeeded in writing operas which communicate with such clarity and coherence to their audience as those by Jonathan Dove’

The Gramophone


Born in 1959, Jonathan Dove's early musical experience came from playing the piano, organ and viola. Later he studied composition with Robin Holloway at Cambridge and, after graduation, worked as a freelance accompanist, repetiteur, animateur and arranger. His early professional experience gave him a deep understanding of singers and the complex mechanics of the opera house. Opera and the voice have been the central priorities in Dove’s output throughout his subsequent career.

Starting with his breakthrough opera Flight, commissioned by Glyndebourne in 1998, Dove has gone on to write over twenty operatic works. In 2010 A Song of Joys for chorus and orchestra opened the festivities at the Last Night of the Proms.  Throughout his career Dove has made a serious commitment to community development through innovative musical projects. His 2012 opera Life is a Dream, was performed by professionals and community choruses in a disused Birmingham warehouse, and a church opera involving community singers The Walk from the Garden was premiered at Salisbury Cathedral. 

2015 brought the World Premieres of The Day After, commissioned and produced by Holland Opera with a libretto by April de Angelis, a post-Apocalyptic setting of the myth of Phaeton written specifically to be performed outside; and The Monster in the Maze, a new opera for children, young people and adults, with a libretto by Alasdair Middleton, commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, and Festival d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, and led by Sir Simon Rattle and Simon Halsey.

Alasdair Middleton was born in Yorkshire and trained at the Drama Centre, London. His work as a librettist includes: with Jonathan Dove – The Monster in the Maze(Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Aix-en-Provence Festival), Diana and Actaeon(Royal Ballet), The Walk From The Garden(Aegeas Salisbury International Arts Festival), Life Is A Dream(Birmingham Opera), Mansfield Park(Heritage Opera), Swanhunter(Opera North), The Enchanted Pig(The Young Vic, ROH2), The Adventures of Pinocchio(Opera North), and the cantata On Spital Fields(Spitalfields Festival, winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award); With Paul Englishby – Pleasure’s Progress(ROH2), Who Is This That Comes(Opera North) and The Crane Maiden(KAAT Yokohama). Other libretti include The World Was All Before Them, On London Fields, winner of an Royal Philharmonic Society Award, A Bird In Your Ear(New York City Opera), The North Wind Was A Woman(A Song Cycle for Dawn Upshaw), Everything Money Can Buy(Selfridges) The Feathered Friend. He has written four plays; Aeschylean Nasty, Shame On You Charlotte, Casta Diva and Einmal.

8 January 2016

We would like to offer anyone that has taken part in Friday Afternoons this year a certificate of achievement. These are available to download below. Congratulations to everyone that has taken part!

Download Certifcate .pdf


23 November 2015

Friday 20 November was the Big Sing, the culmination of Friday Afternoons 2015 where a schools across the country (and further afield) sang the new songs by Nico Muhly in events both large and small. We helped a handful of these schools to stream their events live so even more could watch and take part.

Aldeburgh Music at Snape Maltings Concert Hall

Here at Snape we had 670 Suffolk school children come and join us in a Big Sing led by Pete Letanka and Paul Whittaker.

The following Suffolk schools took part at the event on site:

  • Alde Valley Academy , Leiston
  • Aldeburgh Primary School
  • The Ashley School, Lowestoft
  • Bacton Primary  School
  • Britannia Primary School, Ipswich
  • East Bergholt Primary School
  • Great Barton Primary School
  • Halifax Primary School, Ipswich
  • Handford Hall Primary School, Ipswich
  • Howard Primary School, Ipswich
  • Nayland Primary School
  • Ringsfield and Brampton Federation
  • Sir John Leman High School, Beccles
  • St Gregory Primary School, Sudbury
  • St Helen’s Primary School, Ipswich
  • St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Bury St Edmunds
  • St Matthew’s Primary School, Ipswich
  • Whitehouse Primary School, Ipswich
  • Wilby Primary School

It was great to see so many children, and teachers having a good time and singing together!

We were also joined by Nico Muhly and Michael Morpurgo. Both took to the stage and talked to the schools about the importance of music in both of their lives.

Michael also presented Cassie White, the winner of the Britten Young Songwriter Competition 2015 with a signed professionally typeset score, and introduced four professional singers who then performed her winning entry to the hall.

Watch the whole performance again below...

Elsewhere in the UK...

Saffron Hall hosted a huge event with Dominic Peckham:

We also streamed groups from around the country. To see their videos, please click here.

These groups were:

  • Cornwall Music Hub
  • St Mary's, Newcastle-under-Lyme
  • Derbyshire Music Hub
  • London Youth Choir (Hackney Outreach Project)

Other Activity

We also had activity going on further afield, with groups taking place in Croatia and Singapore. You can see other activity that happened on our interactive map. Please let us know if you had your own event, we'd love to hear from you.

Future Events...

We have groups carrying on with Friday Afternoons 2015 into early next year, so keep your eyes peeled for more information about these. We are also releasing new songs for 2016... we don't stop!