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19 May 2015

More than more than 350 performers of all ages gathered at Chester Cathedral recently to take part in the debut of a spectacular mini opera to celebrate the University of Chester's 175th Anniversary. 

The performance was the culmination of the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services’ latest project with Manchester Camerata, which told the story of the University’s history.

On Chester On involved pupils from eight local primary and secondary schools, teacher training students, University staff and former students, working with performance artists from Camerata. Each school worked closely with a Camerata musician, composer and dramatist to devise the music, lyrics and drama to bring the story to life. The project sought to tie together the founding of the Diocesan Teacher Training College in 1839 to the University that exists today.

Over the last four years, the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services has formed a partnership with Manchester Camerata and the Phillip Barker Trust. The Anniversary performance was, without doubt, the largest and most ambitious project to date. Previously, Faculty students worked alongside Camerata in a number of Cheshire schools, engaged in a variety of projects including the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service projects of Tinderbox, Heroes with Grimy Faces. There was also a piece of work where children and adults from the local community explored the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King's iconic speech.

Anna Sutton, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, said: “It has been a privilege to work again with artists from Manchester Camerata. Working with Camerata enabled teacher training students to develop their own practice, confidence and ability. Ideas, teaching strategies, techniques and subject knowledge were shared with student teachers to develop their own subject knowledge and understanding.

“The performance was developed by school pupils over many weeks. History was enacted and a script devised using music to facilitate the story line. The pupils learnt to work together to be creative and to explore their musical talent.

“The performance earlier this week was a wonderful experience, focusing on the work of the University to date and how this work impacts on the lives of children and young people.”

(Above photograph): Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler (right) and Allan Owens from the Faculty of Education, took part in the performance at Chester Cathedral.

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