Musical celebrations at Chichester Cathedral

Voices for Freedom - performance in the nave
Voices for Freedom - performance in the nave

Chichester Cathedral held two special events earlier this month, both exploring the power of music to transform lives.

On March 10 and 17, the cathedral welcomed more than 600 Year Five and Six pupils from local primary schools to take part in the Young Voices Festival, a collaboration between Chichester Cathedral and West Sussex Music Service. Central CE Primary School, Oakwood School, East Wittering Community Primary and The March CE Primary participated.

Sing Healthy, Play Happy

Sing Healthy, Play Happy

The festival was titled Voices for Freedom and included songs from different cultures, all exploring the themes of human rights and social justice. The children filled the Cathedral Nave and were taught to sing the songs by Emily Barden of West Sussex Music and Charles Harrison, master of the Cathedral Choristers. The choristers also helped to teach the songs, singing alongside the primary school pupils who had travelled from across the county. The children finished the afternoon by performing to an audience of over two hundred people who heard them perform six evocative songs, each chosen to promote discussion about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Becky, a teacher at Amberley CE First School, said: “The pupils have gained a better understanding of human rights and are more aware of the current issues in the world as we had discussed these during our sessions. They are more confident when singing and recognise that singing is ‘cool’. The choristers were also a great example of high quality singing!”

On Wednesday, March 22, the cathedral hosted a unique music training session called Sing Healthy, Play Happy. This session was attended by staff from many of Chichester’s residential homes, along with local health and care professionals, and carers of relatives living with dementia. The session was part of the Cathedral’s dementia friendly learning programme and was led by ‘Open Strings Music’, a Brighton based organisation which provides diverse opportunities for people to connect and create music together. The Sing Healthy Play Happy workshop provided an introduction to running dementia-friendly inclusive music sessions - the participants explored songs, sound-making and rhythm as well as practical considerations when delivering music workshops for people with dementia. The workshop was also an opportunity for participants to network and learn from each other about how they could work creatively with music in their care settings.

One participant said: “Today’s training has made me feel more confident to use music as a way to connect meaningfully with people living with dementia”.

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