The project partners, hailing from 4 European countries and working in settings with distinct social and economic characteristics, for the most part, encounter similar difficulties, such as a lack of information, time and resources, and a feeling of general isolation. This project aims to reduce or even eliminate these difficulties altogether while, at the same time, contributing to the development of singing and stage movement in European children’s choirs.
Creation of a sustainable transnational cooperation network
One problem highlighted by each of the project partners is the isolation they sometimes feel as well as the difficulty to find collaborative partners needed for developing innovative practices. However, it is also very important for choirs to know how to reinvent themselves, to be able to take advantage of the advances of other choirs while retaining their own originality. All partners insist on the importance of professional meetings, intercultural exchange and sharing the information and experiences of the choirs.
This project wishes to create a network of children’s choirs interested in stage movement, which would be a place to share experiences and knowledge, one that is intended to be perennial.
Thus, through the creation of a sustainable network of transnational cooperation between children’s choirs, which allows for the mobility and the exchange of skills, development of practice and growth of new audiences, this project makes it possible to discover, exchange, and draw attention to different pedagogical and artistic experiences currently existing in Europe.
The aim here is to discover the diversity of approaches regarding this singing/movement practice and showcase that as being a real wealth provided by Europe, taking into account socio-economic and cultural disparities. For this purpose, workshops, symposiums and training courses are regularly organised to allow exchanges between professionals. Moreover, the concert sessions are important moments for meeting and sharing for the young singers coming from different European countries.
Practice development and skills building
All project partners can testify to the difficulty of artfully combining the vocal and stage work skills of children, both of which are often separated in the initial training of the actors. One of the main objectives of these regular meetings is to train choir directors in the practice of stage movement that is often lacking in Europe, or to consolidate their skills.
The six workshops, which are real platforms for training and exchange, are offered in a different country each time and are open to interested choir directors as well as to teachers wishing to potentially apply these techniques to their musical work.
The master classes organised in Vesoul and Turin in July 2017 serve to enhance the professionalization of young choir directors.
This sharing of observations and methods leads to a pedagogical development that makes vocal learning attractive to children. Experiences, pedagogical collaboration and training work are disseminated through a website, a narrative book and a documentary film intended to trace the project and publicise the results of the team’s work.
Encouragement, support for mobility and for the Europeanization of careers
One important dimension of networking is to encourage the circulation of professionals and young choristers. For choir directors and professionals, the project is an opportunity to promote career internationalisation and artistic activity by fostering professional meetings and especially by allowing the choirs to visit partner countries and present their work in two European countries, France and Italy. For young singers, these two journeys for concert sessions – full of collaboration and exchange – will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience and will valorise their belonging to the European Union. (For example, the Erasmus programme has shown that projects facilitating youth mobility are those which convey the most positive image of the EU and are praised by their beneficiaries).
Development of audiences
The diversification of children's choirs’ audiences (by which we mean all recruited children as well as the spectators present at the performances) requires innovative forms of musical activity and entertainment. This is the conviction of all project partners. For the Ensemble Justiniana, this belief is based on experience gained from more than 30 years of researching new audiences and through the training and involvement of amateurs in professional productions. This research is part of the company's approach and is noted in the specifications of its convention with the public sponsors and local authorities that have supported the project since its inception. The Singing-Dance-Theatre workshops attract a diverse audience (music lovers, laymen and families of the participating children) drawn to these very lively activities.
Efforts to diversify the audience also involve an active strategy relative to the concerts, such as:
- Partnerships with schools, including pre-concert training;
- Numerous awareness-raising and communication activities (mini-concerts, flash-mobs or open rehearsals organised before the concerts);
- Broad television coverage of news stories and concerts;
- Research on the audience of today and tomorrow through surveys conducted during concerts so as to gather the opinion of spectators.
Creation of a new European music repertoire
All the partners note that the contemporary choral repertoire for children's voices is quite modest in all countries. The voice of children is not an object of particular interest for most composers, and works likely to give rise to stage work for children are even harder to come by. Composers are not often aware of the potential of children's choirs, hence the importance of close collaboration between choirs and composers.
The project proposes the creation of a new European musical repertoire suitable for children and the stage. This new repertoire brings together choirs and composers from each country, capitalising on the diversity of cultures and languages offered by Europe.
Commissioning works to composers makes it possible to establish a link between contemporary scores and the children who interpret them. The design of the stage movements, included in the writing phase, must emerge from the music and be an expressive means that complements the song. These creations allow composers to better understand children's voices and children's interpretational force. This new repertoire of quality works reaches not only young people but also a larger public. These works are available to all and distributed by the network of choir federations and associations in Europe. It is therefore up to each choir to commission a work from a composer in their native country, which will be produced at the concerts in Turin in July 2017.
Permanent network and outreach: website, publication, documentary film
So as to enable the dissemination of the children’s choir practice of singing/stage movement beyond the duration of the project, the partners wish to create:
- a bilingual website (in French and English) dedicated to the project, a real platform for discussion and exchange and a source of information available to all. Indeed, this project aims to constitute the nucleus of a vast network of cooperation, intended to unite all the actors of the singing and stage movement;
- a documentary film as well as a methodological work in the form of a book-narrative published in French and translated into English for a wide European distribution.
Thanks to this project, children, citizens of tomorrow, give a new dimension to their artistic universe that opens onto a world in which singing and playing go hand in hand.