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Making classical music cool for all ages in West Norfolk

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A West Norfolk scheme’s message is that classical music is exciting and moving, and can be enjoyed by children too.

Classical Music Rocks, which started in October, 2016, has introduced classical music to 6,000 pupils and 30 schools since its inception, according to chairman Peter Barker.

And the organisation will be holding an event entitled ‘A Night at the Opera’ at Lynn’s Minster on Wednesday, June 26, at 7.30pm.

Catherine Backhouse on the Mezzo Soprano, Siobhain O’Higgias on the piano and Anthony Flaum on the Tenor will be performing music by Bizet, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Puccini.

Anthony Flaum, Tenor, will be at Lynn’s Minster for Classical Music Rocks event
Anthony Flaum, Tenor, will be at Lynn’s Minster for Classical Music Rocks event

After the concert, the classical trio will then visit primary schools including Whitefriars, Clenchwarton, West Lynn, Terrington, Heacham and Hunstanton.

Mr Barker, who has lived in Lynn for 18-years, said: “We are trying to get the whole community to enjoy classical music.

“A little lad said he did not know what a violin was and it was the first time I have seen one.”

Classical Music Rocks was originally founded by Mr Barker and a group of private donors before public funding came in for the organisation.

Speaking of how he first got into classical music himself, Mr Barker said: “It goes back to when I was eight-years-old and my Mum took me to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Royal Festival Hall which turned me on to classical music.

“But the key moment for me was working for the agency Cafcass where children are represented in family courts.

“I was working with people whose lives were in chaos and it was emotional work.

“I would take those stressed out kids to listen to some beautiful music to enjoy something for a change.”

Classical Music Rocks regularly hires an array of talented musicians, but has a current core group of 14 recruited for the company.

Many have been selected through their appearances with the King’s Lynn Festival and King’s Lynn Music Society.

“The idea did not come into action until I met Joo Yeon Sir, who has got a great personality and is fabulous when working with children,” Mr Barker said.

“Classical music was the pop music of 19th century Italy.”

The company is supported by North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, with Norfolk-based novelist Louis de Bernières as the patron of the company.

Last week, the group spent a couple of days in Hunstanton, including a performance for 200 children at Old Hunstanton’s St Mary’s Church last Friday. This was in support of the Save the Children Fund.

The not-for-profit company spends all its money on fees for musicians, travel and accommodation and is in the process of becoming a charity.

A feedback response from a school on the Classical Music Rocks website reads: “The children all thoroughly enjoyed the recital. Lots of them had never heard an opera singer before.

“They thought her voice was beautiful. Those that play instruments were blown away with how quickly the pianist played.”

Tickets for the A Night at the Opera event this month cost £12 and can be purchased through the Corn Exchange, either online or by calling 01553 764864.

Siobhain O'Higgias will be playing the piano at 'A Night at the Opera'
Siobhain O'Higgias will be playing the piano at 'A Night at the Opera'

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