New music by young composers celebrates William Wordsworth

Filming the performance in Ambleside Parish Church

Filming the performance in Ambleside Parish Church - Credit: Orchestras Live

A new piece of music inspired by William Wordsworth and written by young musicians in the Lake District is being shared online. 

‘Reflection on Wordsworth’ was due to be performed during last year’s 250th anniversary celebrations of the birth of the great Lakeland poet, but was delayed by the pandemic. 

The music reflects the twists and turns of the river, its undulations and its changes of state, from small, calm and serene, to angry and fast flowing. It was due to be premiered at Ambleside Parish Church in April 2020, with local primary school choirs and the young composers performing alongside Manchester Camerata. 

Now, Cumbria Music Hub, Orchestras Live and Manchester Camerata are sharing the film premiere of the ‘Encountering Wordsworth’, the inclusive large-scale music, poetry and multi-media project being performed in Ambleside Parish Church by members of Manchester Camerata, Laura Bowler, Alice Phelps and Alissa Moore.

Performing the new music - a year on from the scheduled premiere - in Ambleside Parish Church

Performing the new music - a year on from the scheduled premiere - in Ambleside Parish Church - Credit: Orchestras Live

Becky West, the regional producer – North for Orchestras Live said: ‘It’s been a testament to the resilience of our partnerships, everyone’s creativity and determination to ensure the young people were able to complete the creative process that Encountering Wordsworth has been performed at all. While so many creative projects were cancelled or abandoned, our partners rose to the challenge and with immense flexibility, ensured we have this wonderful film to share that completes the creative process begun in autumn 2019.’ 

In the days before restrictions and social distancing, the young composers and children from primary schools and Sandgate School worked with composer Laura Bowler, sound artist Dan Fox, Manchester Camerata musicians and Orchestras Live’s music leader trainee Alice Phelps to compose music inspired by Wordsworth’s Duddon Sonnets and to take field recordings of the environment around Grasmere, close to Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage. 

Everything was on schedule for a performance in April 2020, when the lockdown began. With the new piece of music almost complete, it was agreed to continue with the project – little knowing it would be a year before musicians could come back together and the composition could be performed.  

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The new piece ‘Reflections on Wordsworth’ features in Wordsworth Grasmere’s exhibition ‘Still glides the Stream: Wordsworth’s Journey Down the River Duddon’, an exhibition celebrating Wordsworth’s The River Duddon, a series of 33 sonnets tracing an imaginary walk through the Duddon valley. 

And from Thursday July 28 the film will be available on the Orchestras Live YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/ok_jxG-N5gA 

Some of the young team who worked on the project

Some of the young team who worked on the project - Credit: Orchestras Live

Simon Yeo, of Cumbria Music Hub said: ‘Everyone has been so supportive of the work the group has accomplished, that it is likely to be heard and seen by many more people than would have been able to attend the live performance. 

‘I am delighted by how the creative sector across Cumbria have offered their time and resources to ensure that the creative efforts of Cumbria’s young people find an audience and their talents recognised.’