Chetham's School of Music

Chetham's School of Music (Chets) and Gabrieli are delighted to continue their ongoing relationship as part of Gabrieli's outreach work. Read on for thoughts from Paul McCreesh and others on past projects with the the largest specialist Music School in the UK and the only Music School based in the North of England.

Click on the links to your left for details on each Gabrieli-Chetham's project and selected photos.

Paul McCreesh on working with Chetham's

It's a huge challenge for me, but also without doubt some of the most rewarding work I can do.  I try never to give information, but always to ask questions. ("So why have I stopped the orchestra?" is one of my favourites.)  What I am trying to do is to develop intellectual and emotional curiosity. The level of regular teaching at Chets is very high, but Gabrieli projects offer a different perspective on musical development; part of this is ‘historical' (…actually it's nothing to do with history – it's about being musical).

I can't express the deep joy of seeing seven teenage horn players mastering the hand horn – the wildest of all instruments. Or the brilliant (all girl!) trumpet section playing the old ‘nats' with fantastic aplomb and raising the roof as Elijah is whisked up to heaven. Or the beauty of the string players cutting out constant vibrato and playing expressively in a way which shame some of our duller professional orchestras. Or seeing young wind players grow a foot taller in confidence as they played their solos in the week. Or seeing the choir – a spirited instrument, but one of untrained singers – come to realise that singing isn't the soft option, but a wonderful vibrant experience which complements their instrumental studies in a crucial way. Of course not everything is technically perfect, but the level of musical understanding and feeling is often deeply moving.

I always try to avoid the word ‘educational'. The word is simply not appropriate because the gain is entirely two-way. For me, and I trust my colleagues, these projects are not about what we give to young musicians, but as much about what we gain both as artists and as human beings. It's a real exchange – a sense of redefining what it is to be a musician, the chance to share a love of a great art with the next generation, and to be contented in oneself about what is a great gift.

As I get older I want to spend more of my time working in such environments, and I think the value of the great musicians in Gabrieli is that so many of them have great skills apart from playing and singing beautifully. Of course I love conducting great orchestras, but there is something in this kind of work which nourishes my soul in a way which is so much harder to find in the cut and thrust of the professional world. I want to find ways to develop such projects so they become a national resource for the next generation.

- Paul McCreesh