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Purcell's Twist - BEMF 2018


Cathy Dew introduces the recorder to Castaway

CPD for local musicians

Minster Minstrels performing at BEMF 2018

Castaway Goole in performance at BEMF 2018

Piers Adams and recorder workshop participants on parade!
Purcell's Twist was a collaboration between young and amateur musicians from across Yorkshire, celebrating early music and modern creativity. The project was part of NCEM's work as a BBC Ten Pieces national champion, "aiming to open up the world of classical music to young people and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to the music". Drawing on the accessibility and authenticity of the recorder (a low-cost instrument with a relatively shallow initial learning curve but with the scope to progress to increasingly complex and historically-informed repertoire over time), Purcell's Twist increased opportunity for those who regularly face barriers to engaging in high-quality, high-profile music-making.

Focusing predominantly on Goole in the East Riding of Yorkshire, through partnerships with Castaway Accessible Music Theatre and local schools, Purcell's Twist offered young people aged 10-25 the opportunity to:
  • Learn to play the treble or descant recorder, supported by early music specialists Cathy Dew and Jennifer Cohen;
  • Explore and play a part in Henry Purcell's 'Rondeau' from Abdelazer (one of the 2017-18 BBC Ten Pieces);
  • Develop a brand-new composition, using the Purcell Rondeau as inspiration;
  • Meet and rehearse with York's Youth Early Music Group, the Minster Minstrels , developing a shared performance of the Purcell Rondeau.
Purcell's Twist also offered professional development to local community musicians, through:
  • Instrumental tuition from recorder expert, Cathy Dew, for all music leaders and support staff involved in the project;
  • Placement and shadowing opportunities for students from the University of York's Music Education Group and staff from Castaway Accessible Music Theatre.
The project culminated in a collaborative community concert, held at Toll Gavel United Church, 1pm on Saturday 26th May, as part of the Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival. Young people from this Learning & Participation project joined forces with recorder virtuoso Piers Adams and participants from the festival's Revolutionary Recorder workshop , closing the show with a massed-recorder finale!

Young people said of the project:
  • "I never played the recorder before and never performed in front of my parents before"
  • "I made up my own music and now I want to do more of this"
  • "I want to do more projects with the recorder"
  • "I liked playing with the Minster Minstrels...they were really professional"
  • "Piers Adams was really inspiring - he is one of the best recorder players in the world - he played two recorders at once!!"
Music leaders and project staff also experienced many positive outcomes:
  • "The children have learnt so much: performing alongside other musicians, adapting their articulation and dynamics to accommodate solo/tutti parts, listening skills to ensure good balance between players, confidence to perform in front of an audience and in a new venue"
  • "The way the early music was approached was very interesting to observe, as I expected it to be quite a complicated concept to try and explain, but it was approached in such a way that all members understood and were able to apply elements of it to their own composition"
  • "Clear and achievable goals for improvement on the recorder have enabled all participants to boost their self confidence"
  • "As well as being brilliant for the young people, this experience has been extremely valuable in developing my confidence, leadership, organisation and communication skills"
  • "I have really enjoyed this project - it has been so fulfilling and it was an absolute joy to hear the results at the performance. Thank you for the opportunity to work with such brilliant people and musicians!"


Purcell's Twist was made possible thanks to the support of Youth Music (as part of the Music4U programme), the East Riding of Yorkshire Music Education Hub and the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust, with the Minster Minstrels generously supported by York Music Hub.

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