300 Yorkshire schoolchildren take part in Make Music Day in York today, courtesy of the Richard Shephard Music Foundation

Schoolchildren taking part in the 2023 Make Music Day in the Chapter House at York Minster. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

THREE hundred primary schoolchildren from Yorkshire and the North East are taking part in Make Music Day in York today.

This special celebration of all things musical is run by the Richard Shephard Music Foundation, the charity set up as a memorial to the late York composer and Minster School headmaster Dr Richard Shephard.

Since its creation, 5,000 children have been receiving weekly music lesson within their schools, subsidised by the foundation, and today’s event will give some of them even more opportunities to express themselves musically by spending the day singing, playing instruments and composing music in the Chapter House of York Minster and the Creative Centre at York St John University.

Make Music Day 2023 in the Creative Centre at York St John University. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

Cathy Grant, from the foundation, says: “The day is all about celebrating children’s natural musical talent, supporting their wellbeing, and raising children’s musical aspirations.

“What drives us forward is the ambition that every child should have music in their lives. It shouldn’t be for the privileged few. I’ve been lucky over the past two years to witness the transformational experience of music for young people.

“Working alongside our partners, we’re seeking to remove the geographical and financial barriers to a high-quality music education so that every child can experience the great many educational, health and well-being benefits it can bring.”

Schoolchildren enjoying the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

Cathy continues: “I can get absolutely lost in the swathes of research that seek to prove the benefits of music education, particularly from an early age. Researchers are even working on proving the ‘psychoneuroimmunological’ benefits – essentially evidencing how music is not only good for our minds, but also the long-term health of our bodies. And what’s not to like about schools being full of music and singing?”

As well as an inspiring day for young people, the event will give supporters a glimpse of what the foundation has done since 2021. “We’ve got ambitious plans,” says Cathy. “We aim, over the next three years, to allow over 10,000 young people to receive a high-quality music lesson each week and to have the opportunity to join a choir, to come along to a music holiday club or take up an instrument.

“The day’s activities will include plenty of singing, a folk workshop, an introduction to the Gamelan – a set of huge traditional percussion instruments – and the chance to play the ‘Bamboo Tamboo’, an instrument that can be used to play vibrant Caribbean grooves. We hope it will not only inspire the children but also the teachers accompanying them.”

A session at the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

The schools taking part today are: Easterside Academy, Middlesbrough; St George’s RC Primary School, Scarborough; St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Pickering; Abingdon Primary School, Middlesbrough; Badger Hill Primary Academy, York; Clifton Green Primary School, York; St Francis of Assisi Primary School, Stockton; Ainderby Steeple CofE Primary School and Middleham CofE Aided School.

Make Music Day: the back story

MAKE Music Day is the largest single-day music festival in Great Britain, encouraging musicians, producers, promoters and music lovers to collaborate and organise in-person and online performances in and for their communities.

Since beginning as Fête de la Musique in France in 1982, Make Music Day has grown into a global phenomenon that takes place annually in 125 countries, always on June 21. Solo performers, groups and music creators of all types are invited to take part, regardless of age, ability or musical genre.

To more information, go to: makemusicday.co.uk.

Giving instruction at the 2023 Make Music Day in York. Picture: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

Artistic director sought for York Mystery Plays’ spring Passion Play production

Tom Straszewski: Writing an hour-long script for this spring’s Passion Play, presented by the York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, York Minster and York Festival Trust

AN artistic director is being sought for the York Mystery Plays’ outdoor community production of The Passion and Death of Christ at Easter.

The director will be expected to audition and rehearse in York, possibly virtually in the early stages, and then indoors and outdoors as Covid restrictions permit.

Applicants are asked to submit a one-page initial idea for the Passion Play production, along with a CV. Interest should be registered by emailing York Festival Trust chairman Roger Lee at: roger@yorkmysteryplays.co.uk. More details can be found at: bit.ly/YorkPassionPlay#yorkmysteryplays#york#theatre@YorkFestTrust

Tom Straszewski, director of the 2018 production on York’s streets, is developing an hour-long script for staging on waggons in the grounds of the Minster School, Minster Yard, Deangate, York.

Three performances a day will take place on Saturday, April 3 and Monday, April 5, mounted by a three-way partnership of York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, York Minster and York Festival Trust.

Funding for the spring production will come from York Festival Trust and York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, boosted by a £2,000 grant received already from The Passion Plays Trust. Audience members will pay a nominal sum for tickets to enable the organisers to safely manage numbers, access and distancing, if Covid restrictions still apply.

There will be opportunity for involvement in all aspects of the production. Watch this space for updates.