Dunster Festival’s mission is to bring inspiring music to Dunster and the surrounding area and to make world-class performances more freely available and accessible to the whole community.
Alongside the Festival weekend itself, we organise an ambitious programme of interactive concerts and workshops in care homes and schools, which take place in the months leading up to each Festival. In providing and delivering these opportunities, we hope to make a positive difference to the lives of some of the more vulnerable members of our community, as well as supporting music-making in local schools.
In 2018, Dunster Festival organised concerts in two care homes in Minehead in conjunction with partner organisation Live Music Now. The feedback from these performances, which took place in Eastleigh Care Home and Dunster Care Lodge, was overwhelmingly positive. One care manager commented that she had never before seen all of the residents so engaged and happy, and that the sense of community engendered by the visit was extraordinary.
Dunster Festival artists also visited six first/primary schools to give interactive hour-long concerts to more than five hundred children ranging from ages four to eleven. Thanks to support from the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust and a private donor, the children learnt about chamber music and had the opportunity to ask the musicians questions. They were encouraged to work as a group, sharpening their awareness of each other through various rhythm and singing games; their listening skills, as well as their imaginations, were challenged; and a few individuals took to the podium to conduct the musicians.
Dunster Festival also engaged with three hundred and sixty children aged 9 to 11 at two local Middle schools (Danesfield and Minehead) through two days of singing workshops. Some of these students then had the opportunity to perform alongside internationally-renowned singers as part of the 2018 Festival’s Saturday evening Gala Concert, an experience which the children themselves described as ‘bigger than words’.
In the hour-long school workshop sessions, students were introduced the sound-world of Renaissance vocal music, concepts of singing together and the different voice types found in a choir. Through experiencing live performances of sacred and secular pieces from different European countries, the students were encouraged to think about language, history and the origins and functions of the music they heard, as well as exploring music’s ability to convey feelings and moods. The children joined in the music-making through the exploration of dynamics, tempo and texture and by learning and singing a round together.
Feedback from previous schools workshops
I like hearing them sing loudly and quietly, changing the tone. Andres, 10
I learnt that music can be fun and brings people together. Gavin, 10
My favourite thing about the workshop was singing and doing canons. It also put a smile on my face listening to them sing. Daisy, 11
Thank you for showing us your instruments and playing your lovely music. Katie, 7
I liked that we all got to work as a team, split into groups and try all the songs. Also, learning about the song writers and which languages the songs were in. Beckie, 10
Thank you for visiting our school – I loved it so much. I really hope you can come again! Brady, 10