Derby Creative Project Sinfonia Viva Shortlisted For National Lottery Award

Derby Creative Project Sinfonia Viva Shortlisted For National Lottery Award

An innovative creative project led by Derby-based professional orchestra Sinfonia Viva and involving more than 100 local young people has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The Grammy nominated Orchestra, which already has a national reputation for its education and community work and is an Arts Council National Portfolio organisation, has reached the final stages of the National Lottery Awards.

The Orchestra’s creative project ‘Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red’ – inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s 1918 poem ‘How To Die’ – was held last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.

It is now one of seven arts projects nationwide which will go to a public vote which opens on Wednesday June 24 and closes on July 29.

The project receiving the most votes will receive a £2,000 cash prize, a National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star-studded Awards ceremony, broadcast on BBC One in September.

‘Dark Clouds Smouldering into Red’ gained Arts Council England funding for its regional tour that involved hundreds of school and college pupils across the East Midlands.

The Derby project, also supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, involved young people from Arboretum and Becket primary schools, Derby Moor Community Sports College and Derby College.

After an inspiration day at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, the young people worked with award-winning composer James Redwood, Viva musicians and dancers from the Tom Dale Company to create their own music and dance which they then performed alongside the Orchestra at the Assembly Rooms.

Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps said: “We are over the moon to have been shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards which recognises key projects in various categories which have made a difference to people’s lives.

“’Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red’ was a powerful and emotional creative project for everyone involved.  It explored the impact of the war on soldiers at the Front and the families they left behind.

“The young people really engaged with the subject and created their own songs, music and dance and it was wonderful to see their confidence grow as they worked and then performed alongside professional musicians and dancers.

“The feedback from everyone involved and the audience who watched the performances was that this has helped to make what happened 100 years ago just as relevant to today’s generations.

“Our education residencies continue and have recently included projects commemorating Richard III burial at Leicester, the 30th anniversary of the start of the miner’s strike in Derby and the anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta working with young people in Lincoln.

“We therefore continue to bring history to life for young people in a creative and thought-provoking way – supporting their studies in the classroom and promoting music in all its forms in an exciting and relevant way.

“We of course hope that we will win the National Lottery Award but just being short-listed is a huge honour and is an opportunity to raise the profile of the high quality work that we do every year with young people right across the East Midlands.”

Becket Head Teacher Susan James continued: “We have been involved in the Viva residencies for several years which are always a wonderful experience for the children.

“This was a particularly powerful subject matter which really captured their imaginations.  They thoroughly enjoyed being part of the workshops and it is always a fantastic experience for them to perform on stage alongside the professional musicians from Viva.

“We will be rallying the whole school to vote for this project as it would be wonderful for such a successful project that has inspired so many of our pupils to be recognised nationally in this way.”

The project was backed by a wide range of sponsors and supporters, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rolls-Royce plc, Foyle Foundation and Orchestras Live, and the extended tour was made possible by a £89,118 Strategic Touring grant from Arts Council England. 

To vote for Dark Clouds please go to or telephone 0844 836 9711 and follow the campaign on twitter: #NLAwards.  Voting runs for five weeks from 9am on Wednesday 24 June until midnight on Wednesday 29 July.   

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