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A Cat Called Bat

RNCM Concert Hall, 7pm, Thurs 28 Feb 2013


A cantata for young voices performed by Middleton Parish CE Primary School

Music Lyrics Additional Lyrics Book Narrator Piano

Michael Betteridge & Middleton Parish Primary Derek Martin & Middleton Parish Primary Michael Betteridge Derek Martin Jenny Carson Ewan Gilford

Synopsis and musical numbers The cat called Bat has lost her tail! After asking Detective Dog (who is a great friend but a rubbish detective) to help her find it they get caught up in a strong wind which takes them far and wide. They meet some colourful individuals on their way including a fireman, a crab and the King & Queen of the ocean! But where is her tail...?

1. A Cat Called Bat (all) a. Reprise 1 (all) b. Reprise 2 (all) c. Reprise 3 (all) 2. The Firemans Song (Y6 The Fireman, Y3 Bat the Cat, + Y4/5) 3. The Crabs Song (Y4/5 The Crab, Y3 Bat the Cat, + Y6) 4. The King & Queens Song (Y6 The King & Queen, + Y3/4/5) 5. A Cat Called Bat (reprise) (all) 6. A Cat Called Bat Finale (all)

Now heres the story of A Cat Called Bat... About a year ago (after around a year of working at Middleton Parish) I had the idea of writing a short new work for young voices alongside my collaborator Derek Martin. Key to the project would be substantial input from the young people who would perform it. Considering the supportive, creative and ambitious environment that fills every nook and cranny at Middleton Parish I approached Jacqui Potts, head of the school, and floated the idea. She gave the green light and we were good to go!

The process started in May 2012 with a half an hour session with the entirety of what would be Key Stage 2 in early 2013. It was a Thursday morning and we had a go at composing a very short song based on the wind that had blown a tree down outside the school overnight. From here pupils were invited to suggest ideas for a longer piece and place the ideas in Mr Betteridges ideas box! Many of the ideas stemmed from this initial session, but also we had some fantastic characters and stories suggested to us, some witty, some dark and some very abstract! Derek and I sat down and came up with a brief synopsis that attempted to incorporate all these ideas. I took this short story and delivered it to pupils in their half hour sessions with me each week and we started refining and modifying this narrative into lyrics. Our first song was the opening number youll hear tonight and this was written and learnt towards the end of summer term last year. Over the summer break Derek created a 12 page script with a metered, rhyming text which became the basis for the rest of the cantata. Between September and December last year pupils and I would use Dereks words as a starting point and create our own little songs. Each year group has a character or two in which they have helped shape the music and lyrics for their song. Eventually I realised we had hardly used any of Dereks text (!) and I decided to approach a singer at the RNCM to narrate the remaining text that hadnt been used. Of course with all these kind of creative projects things change massively over time and working in a busy school such as Middleton Parish means that every so often you have to accommodate the million other wonderful things that are happening over the school day! Unfortunately we never got round to finishing some songs, and some ideas were inevitably scrapped. But thats all part of the creative process! Over the last few months weve been fine tuning the music, especially the more challenging aspects, and also learning the text that is to be spoken. I made a conscious effort to move away from the kind of music that children in primary school often learn, wonderful as it is, and move towards a style that is slightly more irregular in terms of harmony and rhythm. Quite often at Middleton Parish we can learn songs in a couple of weeks to a very high standard, but I wanted to push the young people further with this piece. Many of the songs tonight are very intricate in terms of rhythm and metre and also I have made an effort to use leitmotifs (a short musical phrase or melody that recurs throughout a musical work) to unify the work as a whole, rather than it just be a collection of songs with a story attached. We have also tackled some three part harmony in this piece which is no mean feat! It has been a wonderful experience working with these talented young folk over the last year on this project. Lots of hard work has been put into this piece by many, many individuals and it is wonderful to see the young people perform at such a prestigious venue this evening! I started working at Middleton Parish 2 years ago this week and it is always such a privilege to work at the school with so many talented young people. I hope you enjoy this evenings performance. Mr Betteridge

Thanks Jacqui and all the teachers and staff at Middleton Parish for all their support; Dr David Horne here at the RNCM for overseeing this creative project as part of my masters research; Jenny and Ewan for volunteering their time for this performance and being so wonderfully talented!; Backstage, front of house and all other RNCM staff who have ensured this performance runs smoothly; Parents, family and friends for supporting the young people; Anyone else I may have missed!