Friday Afternoons songs to premiere on 14 May

Friday Afternoons songs by Russell Hepplewhite and Michael Rosen will receive an online world premiere on 14 May. One of the 12 songs will be premiered by NYCOS Edinburgh Choir.

EVERYTHING was due to be premiered in 2020 but had to be postponed because of COVID and only two of the twelve songs were released. The ten unheard Friday Afternoons songs by composer Russell Hepplewhite with texts by renowned children’s author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen will now be premiered on 14 May on Britten Pears Arts’ YouTube channel.

EVERYTHING is a cycle of 12 songs about the elements, human discovery, invention, movement, language, atoms and cells all feature. These songs are designed to fire up the imaginations of infant and primary school children with a healthy dose of fun, humour, playfulness, and heart.

Each of the ten songs that have not yet been heard will be performed by ten choirs who were selected after entering an open call in December last year and hail from across the UK and Ireland. Fire will be performed by NYCOS Edinburgh Choir.

Mark Evans, NYCOS Edinburgh Choir Director commented, “NYCOS Edinburgh Choir is very excited to be premiering Fire by Russell Hepplewhite for Britten Pears Arts’ Friday Afternoons. It was such a thrill to have been selected and learning it has been fun. We can’t wait to share our performance on 14th May.”

The choirs performing are:

  • Amherst School Choir, Kent
  • Cornwall County Choirs
  • Dublin Youth Choir
  • The Grange Choir, Monmouth Boys’ Prep
  • Lodge Moor Children’s Choir, Sheffield
  • NYCOS Edinburgh Choir
  • Poco Amabile, Cumbria
  • Scunthorpe Co-Operative Junior Choir
  • Somerleyton Primary School Choir, Suffolk
  • Southend Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs

Russell Hepplewhite commented, “We wanted to create songs for absolutely everybody to enjoy so the cycle is packed with rhymes, patter, curious facts, varied musical moods, and heartfelt melodies that children will hopefully find memorable and inspiring to sing. Some songs are a little more challenging than others, but the cycle is designed so that any of the songs could stand alone in a concert, or alternatively the cycle can be divided neatly into groups of songs which will work well together. For the most ambitious, performing the whole cycle should be quite a showstopper. In months and years to come it is hoped that these songs will bring children together unhindered by social restrictions so that they can once again enjoy the delights of singing as an ensemble in one place together.  But for now, against the on-going pandemic I hope that these digital premieres can give some hope and joy to the children who are taking part in creating them.”

Michael Rosen commented, “It has been a treat and a privilege to be asked to write lyrics for Russell to turn into songs. It’s so exciting for me to know that thousands of children will sing these and feel the spirit of the music and ideas in the songs. When I heard Russell’s tunes for the first time, it was a bit of magic. It’s as if the words had got new clothes and were off out dancing in them. From a personal point of view, I very much hope we are keeping the intentions of Benjamin Britten alive by making new work for all children to sing.”