The world premiere of River Songs, a mass choral work by internationally renowned British composer Jonathan Dove, with words by librettist Alasdair Middleton. This new work will be performed by 1,000 London primary school children as the spectacular opening event of The Mayor's Thames Festival 2010.
River Songs features eight songs inspired by the history of the River Thames. Individual songs are also inspired by the famous London landmarks that surround the performance site including Billingsgate Market, Monument, and Traitors' Gate. One of the songs, A Mad Boat Race, is a song about John Taylor the 'water-poet' - a waterman and master of 'nonsense' poetry from the Elizabethan times. The final song will be about Tower Bridge, and as the children perform the historic bridge itself will open, heralding the start of the festival.
The performance will form the centrepiece of the festival's hugely successful Kids' Choir project. Now in its eighth successive year, Kids' Choir is a musical education project aimed at increasing and supporting singing in primary schools. Kids' Choir is supported by Sing Up, the body responsible for delivering the government's national singing programme.
Led by Richard Frostick, the project will develop a high quality choral performance with children from 70 schools from 10 London boroughs - Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth. Via River Songs, these children have an unrivalled opportunity to broaden their musical horizons by working with a world class composer and being exposed, often for the first time, to the richness and complexity of a specially created choral piece.
While 1,000 children will take part in the performance itself, the project will directly benefit many more. It will leave a profound and lasting legacy in primary schools across the capital by boosting the key skills and confidence of music teachers, thereby increasing musical opportunities for pupils in future years.