There is a well known saying in Cornwall that ‘a mine is a hole anywhere in the world with at least one Cornishman at the bottom of it!’ Young people from 28 Cornish schools brought this story alive through songs and music reflecting the Cornish mining heritage across the world at the Hall for Cornwall on 23 June 2010.
As the culmination of a Super Sing Up cluster project over 500 young people from the secondary schools and their feeder primaries in Bodmin, Brannel, Camelford, Wadebridge and Richard Lander created a performance charting the journey from Cornwall to America, Africa and Australia by Cornish miners in the 18th and 19th centuries. They performed to a sell out audience at Hall for Cornwall with the audience joining in the finale song, ‘Cornwall, the land I love,’ by Richard Gendall.
Sing Up is the Music Manifesto’s National Singing Programme for primary school-aged children in England and the Super Sing Up Clusters are managed by Continyou and are funded programmes that enable secondary schools to lead on exciting singing projects with their feeder primary schools.
This programme has involved Young Singing Leaders from the secondary schools leading singing activities in the feeder primaries, and professional singing leaders Barry Hawken, Zoe Zallick, Kirsty Rowe and Sing Up Area Leader Angela Renshaw providing songs, training and support to students and teachers. The performance included musical accompaniment from Cornish bands Dall and Leski, along with Imerys Mid Cornwall Male Voice Choir. The performance was animated by Cscape Dance Company and the whole story was pulled together using short films of archive photos kindly sent by descendants of Cornish miners through the Cornish American Heritage Society and the SW Wisconsin Cornish Society. Angela Renshaw, Sing Up Area Leader said, ‘Having contact with the families of Cornish miners in America really made the project seem real. They were very excited about the project and gave us lots of history about their families, along with the photos. This gave such an edge to the performance, the nostalgia created by these photos along with archive pictures of Cornwall as a working, mining community gave gravitas to the children’s performances.’
Sing Up in Cornwall is hosted by Kernow Education Arts Partnership who have also been helping to shape this project. Helen Reynolds from KEAP says, ‘Ruins of mining chimneys are part of the Cornish landscape and such an important part of Cornwall’s history. It’s wonderful for children to discover that Cornwall was such a leading force in mining skills around the world, and that the Cornish influence is still so evident today in some of those communities.’
Truro Cathedral Scholars as part of the Richard Lander cluster performance
The Wadebridge Cluster performance
Images for Cousin Jacks by Sean Hurlock www.seanhurlockphotography.com