Articles tagged with: William Carslake

Song Story Success!

Song Story Success!

Jackdaws Song Story 2016 with William Carslake and Flora CurzonOn 29 June, the final large-scale Jackdaws Education project of 2015-16 saw children from four Somerset schools perform their own response to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in a special performance at Robert Blake and Elmwood School in Bridgwater.

Using the sonnets which inspired Vivaldi during his original composition, each school developed a response to a particular season with the team. Vivaldi’s sonnets tell a story of the weather and the impact upon humans but our students wanted to update this story to make it more relevant to them, so the four seasons were recomposed to tell of the way we have mistreated Mother Earth, Gaia (ancient English for Earth) so that both her and mankind are now suffering from extreme weather.

All schools agreed that our story needed a superhero; he was to be called Sascha, from Alexander, meaning defender of Mankind. Sascha tries to help Gaia and the people of Earth defend themselves against the weather and the evil duo of the fly-tipping Dr Cuckoo and Lord Bacchus, head of the big oil corporations, poisoning the rivers and oceans.

Ultimately, the people realise they have to work together to help Sascha and unite to save Gaia. Though they succeed, they realise there is still a lot to be done and at the end they pledge to do a better job of looking after the Earth.

The music, mostly adapted from the famous suite of violin concertos, also featured special selections from Vivaldi’s Gloria, and was performed live by Music Director & pianist, William Carslake, violinist Flora Curzon and Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg. The children performed in choirs and in percussion orchestras.

The unique Song Story project was designed to introduce children to the music of the great composers by engaging them in a live performance, using the composer’s music as inspiration to a dramatic narrative of their own creation.

Song Story 2016: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Performance: Wednesday 29 June
Elmwood & Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater

Song Story 2016 explores Vivaldi’s vivid Four Seasons.

Four SEN schools – Elmwood, Avalon, Critchill and Selworthy – will investigate Vivaldi’s evocative work with conductor William Carslake, violinist Flora Curzon and soprano Saffron van Zwanenberg in series of workshops, culminating in the grand performance of their own musical response to the work on 29 June.

The unique Song Story project was designed to introduce children to the music of the great composers by engaging them in a live performance, using the composer’s music as inspiration to a dramatic narrative of their own creation.

A Song Story Performance

What do Mozart, Macbeth and artist Kiki Smith have in common?

What do Mozart, Macbeth and artist Kiki Smith have in common?

…they all feature in Jackdaws Summer Production 2015!

Summer Production 2015Every July, the Jackdaws Summer Production is a week of paint, glue, manuscript, music, sets and costumes. This year, of course, is no exception.

It began on Monday morning, when the 20 children were presented with choices from which to select a combination of music, story and design upon which to build their production. Once selected they had one week.

There were 3 stories to use as a possible plot, 3 composers whose music could be used as basis for original compositions and 3 artists whose work would inspire the staging, costumes and design. The morning was spent reviewing the choices and in the afternoon, voting took place to decide how the rest of the week would be spent. After all votes had been cast, the count revealed they would be using the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, accompanied with music inspired by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and set in the varied styles of contemporary German-American artist Kiki Smith.

And off to work they went…

See the final performance today, Friday 31st July, 5pm at the Silk Mill, Frome. Tickets cost £2.


About the themes:

The Tragedy of Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare at the beginning of the 17th century. Set in Scotland, it follows the story of Macbeth, 11th century King of Scotland, and his rise to power. It is a dark story or murder and deceit, and carries much superstition among actors.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer who lived from 1756-1791. He was a child prodigy and went on to compose operas, choral music, chamber music and pieces for piano; much of which is still performed today.


Kiki Smith is an American artist born in Germany in 1954. She now lives and works in New York City, where her art and exhibitions on provocative and taboo subjects gained her wide renown. She works in a variety of media including sculpture, printmaking, drawing and jewelery.

Sing ‘The Magic Flute’ at Jackdaws!

Sing ‘The Magic Flute’ at Jackdaws!

Have you always wanted to sing an aria, duet or chorus from Mozart’s most famous opera?

Will CarslakeThe Magic Flute has enchanted music and theatre lovers of all ages for hundreds of years. With charm and wit, it tells the story of a terrifying and joyful journey in pursuit of love, wisdom and happiness as Prince Tamino tries to rescue the Princess Pamina from the evil Sarastro. From the stratospheric arias of the Queen of the Night, through the jolly folk tunes of Papageno the Birdcatcher, to the profound music of Sarastro, leader of the enlightened ones, it is a full expression of Mozart’s musical and dramatic genius.

At the Come and Sing Opera Day, William Carslake will guide you through Mozart’s magical masterpiece. You will sing some of the most rousing choruses and tackle the solos and ensembles. William says, “we will sing in English, and can send out in music advance if wished. Please let us know if you would like to sing a certain part!”

‘Often referred to by many as Mozart’s only pantomime, The Magic Flute is a riot of life, lust and ludicrous plot that somehow belies its portentous position in Mozart’s output’ – Classic FM

The course runs from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 14 December and is open to singers of all abilities. The £35 fee includes the delicious home cooked lunch and all music needed for the workshop.

Jackdaws is in Great Elm, just 3 miles from Frome. Visit the course page to book or call 01373 812383 to ask any questions.

Come and Sing: Mozart’s Magic Flute
Sunday 14 December
William Carslake
11am – 3pm
Fee: £35 including lunch and music

One Day Taster Courses

One Day Taster Courses

JackdawsWe have officially reached autumn and we’re looking forward to the next few months of courses at Jackdaws because our One Day Courses will enter their fourth season.

One Day Courses are the perfect introduction to making music at Jackdaws. In 2011 we decided to swap our usual programme of weekend courses in November and December for a series of one day singing taster sessions. It turned out to be a success – three years later, we are running day courses on topics from Playing Jazz to using Alexander Technique.

With top quality tuition and a famous Jackdaws lunch provided, taster days are open to musicians of all levels and give you the opportunity to try something new. Perhaps that’s playing a new genre of music at “Jazz Day”, or singing as part of your first opera chorus in “Come and Sing the Magic Flute”.

What’s happening this year?

Jackdaws Day CoursesAlexander Technique for Musicians
Ann Hetherington
Saturday 15 November

Singing for the over 50s
Penny Jenkins
Sunday 30 November

Jazz Day
Ralf Dorrell
Saturday 6 December

Singing with Confidence
Jessica Walker
Sunday 7 December

Come and Sing Mozart’s Magic Flute
William Carslake
Sunday 14 December

Summer Music Workshops for Children and Teenagers

Summer Music Workshops for Children and Teenagers

walkercarslakeWe are delighted to announce the return of Jackdaws Summer Music Workshops in August 2014; free Music Workshops with some of our most popular tutors for children and teenagers of all abilities.

Thursday 28 August, 2 – 4pm
Singing Workshop with Jessica Walker

Thursday 28 August, 2 – 4pm
Composing Workshop with William Carslake

Places are limited and must be booked in advance; workshops are suitable for children between the ages 11 and 18. If you would like any other information, or to book a place, please call the office on 01373 812383 or email us at Suggested donation of £2.

Jessica Walker graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and has a successful career in both opera and cross-over repertoire, including opera roles at Opera North and Glyndebourne and recently her own solo shows with Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester and Brits Off Broadway in New York. Her recent CD releases include Mercy and Grand; the Tom Waits project with composer Gavin Bryars, and ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’, her own solo show recorded in New York by Original Cast Recordings.

Composer and Conductor William Carslake writes music that captures the northernness and wildness of Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. His ballet score, based around the folk song, Thomas of Winesbury will be published by Shorter House and he has been awarded a composing residency in Banff, Canada in which to complete it. His conducting work includes assisting at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London.

Please note that all students must be resident and attending state school in Somerset.

Jackdaws are in the unique and fortunate position of having outstanding professional musicians coming to tutor every weekend on our courses for adult musicians of all abilities. These Summer Music Workshops open up the opportunity for young people aged between 11 – 18 and at school in Somerset to learn from and be inspired by these international players.

These strands of music provision for young musicians are thanks to support from Sound Foundation Somerset and Jackdaws Education.

Call the office on 01373 812383 or email us at

Summer Production fully booked!

Summer Production fully booked!

At Jackdaws we are happy to announce that this years Summer Production has sold out!

As you may already know every summer we run a week-long workshop focusing on making a show from scratch and this year it will run  from Monday 28 July to Friday 1 August at 9:30am – 4:30pm.

Creating the Set

Creating the Set

This year it will be led by Artistic Director Saffron Van Zwanenberg and we are very lucky to have composer and conductor William Carslake and artist and designer Georgie Tym working with us.

As always the children are given three stories to choose from and must vote for which one will make the best combination of music, plot and staging and they then begin to create! The final product will be performed on Friday 1 August in the Village Hall at 5pm.

For those of you who wanted to come there is always next year as we will be running the production again July 2015. Email us to ensure you don’t miss out again.But for the lucky 21 of you who will be coming, we cannot wait to get started and we hope that you are looking forward to it as much as we are!

Written by Isaac Mundy, work experience student from Frome College.

NEW COURSE for 2014: Ensemble Singing

NEW COURSE for 2014: Ensemble Singing

Following your feedback we have taken the opportunity to refocus the aims of our summer Chamber Choir weekend with William Carslake and Jessica Walker. Your course has had a facelift and is now Jackdaws’ first “Ensemble Singing Weekend

Jackdaws Tutors William Carslake and Jessica WalkerIf you enjoy singing in harmony, or have always wanted to try singing with other voices, come and work with Will and Jess who will help you sing any ensemble you have had a secret hankering to try out.

“Ensemble singing” includes duets, trios, quartets and quintets from Opera, Oratorio, Close Harmony and Barbershop

Whatever your genre of interest, Will and Jess are here to help you sing, employing their own unique brand of technical expertise and inspiring knowledge alongside their passion and enthusiasm for all things sung! This will include help and tips for sight singing, individual vocal tuition and they are happy to arrange music around the voices available so you can all sing together in parts.

The course will still run on Thursday 28th to Sunday 31st August.

Ensemble Singing Course Details
Thursday 28 – Sunday 31 August 2014
Course No. 3104
Level: All
Fee: £260
B&B available from £30 per night
Click here to book

Winter One Day Courses at Jackdaws

Winter One Day Courses at Jackdaws

Sing and Play away the winter blues at Jackdaws with a relaxed introductory taster session. These courses are for everyone whatever your ability.

Whether it is singing your favourite opera choruses as part of a group, or taking the first step into playing Jazz, there is something for everyone. With a first class lunch included, the sessions are informative and informal.

Penny Jenkins

Singing for the Over 50s

Penny Jenkins
Saturday 30 November
For the over 50s, or thereabouts, who are young at heart. Penny will help you use your voice in a safe and nurturing way; the singing voice can go on forever!

Jackdaws Tutor Tim Soar

Alexander Technique for Musicians

Tim Soar
Sunday 1 December
Offering a method for enhancing your performance through rediscovery of your natural poise and freedom of movement; Alexander Technique teaches us to co-ordinate our bodies, our awareness and our intentions before we play a single note.


Singing for Beginners

Jessica Walker
Saturday 7 December
Think you can’t sing a note? Scared to sing on your own? Always hiding at the back of the choir? In the space of just one day, you can become a more confident singer.

Eddie Upton of Folk South West

West Country Carols with Folk South West

Eddie Upton & Philippa Toulson
Sunday 8 December
Spend the day exploring seasonal music from the region’s rich heritage of beautiful folk music and encourage you to try a new style of singing.

Will Carslake

Come and Sing an Opera Chorus

William Carslake
Saturday 14 December
Back by popular demand – from the Brindisi to the Anvil Chorus, some of the most uplifting pieces of music are in the opera repertoire. No experience required!

Jackdaws Tutor Ralf Dorrell

How to Play Jazz

Ralf Dorrell
Sunday 15 December
Beginner and “had a go” Jazzers will have fun exploring all the musical skills required to play Jazz, including basic rhythms, melodies, harmony and improvisation.

All Courses are £35 and include a famous Jackdaws lunch.

Courses run from 11am – 3pm, including a break for lunch.
Courses are open to musicians of all abilities – no experience necessary.

Summer Production Feedback

Summer Production Feedback

We want to thank Eliza Talman for her great feedback about the Summer Production:

“I really liked the whole week, it was fun exciting and really involving. I was always doing something wether it was singing, going through the play or making the sets and props and all of it was really enjoyable. I loved making the forest seen out of magazines and fabric. The singing was really fun and as it was Jackdaws we were all pulled to the limit of what we could do! The acting was really exciting and we all had to be as good as professionals and as loud as we could be. As we only had a week we did the whole thing (learn the play, make all the art and all the songs) in the time we had and made many new friends by doing the same picture or the same song. I LOVE JACKDAWS!

I will definitely remember the toads that we got to make and the buzz of excitement that we got when we were doing the show.”

Brilliant – thank you Eliza!


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