One of the unfortunate consequences of us postponing this year’s festival has been that we cannot run our annual music project with The Blue School, Wells.
The Priddy Rising project has been run with The Blue School, Wells since 2012. Each year the festival pays for professional musicians to work with a group of around twenty students who give up weekends and lunchtimes to put together the “Priddy Rising” concert on the main stage on the Saturday of the festival. It is an hour of music arranged and often composed by the students themselves.
We wanted to do something this year, so we put the challenge to Will Lang, who has led the project since the start and Jenny Henderson who leads the music department at The Blue School. The result is a special video we are releasing on Saturday 4th July. Let Will and Jenny explain it in their own words:
Priddy Rising is a great example of how a folk festival can engage with, and nurture, young performers – developing skills for a new generation of musicians. Since its beginnings in 2012 I’ve been lucky enough to work with the amazing teams of Priddy Folk Festival and Wells Blue School to produce this special project.
2020 has brought about changes to our everyday lives that none of us could’ve foreseen. Many young musicians projects have fallen foul of these changes and not been able to go ahead this year. In true Priddy fashion, Priddy Rising ‘swapped it up’ in the face of change and took the project online to create a virtual band, with a piece arranged by 2 senior students at Wells Blue School. It’s really something special.
This will be my last year working on Priddy Rising as I pass on the reins, in what feels like a fitting legacy, to past Priddy Rising and Wells Blue School students; now professional musicians – Alex Garden and Ford Collier. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this amazing project. It’s something I’m very proud to have been a part of. – Will Lang
This year has seen an unprecedented change to our young people’s lives. Whilst engagement in online learning is difficult to adjust to, it has become clear that school is much more than delivering lessons and taking exams. The staff at The Blue School have worked tirelessly to safeguard the pastoral wellbeing of our pupils and that extends to enrichment activities where possible.
When we first explained that this year would be a digital project there was lots of excitement but also some trepidation. It takes a huge amount of bravery to record a performance and a massive amount of trust to place that recording in the hands of someone else. I am so proud of all our musicians and so grateful to Will Lang and, more recently, Alex Garden and Ford Collier for the time and effort they have put in to building a relationship with our pupils. Without this trust, we would simply not see the creativity or skill displayed by our pupils in this incredible project.
Of course, our pupils will miss the Priddy Folk Festival terribly this year but they have not forgotten the support and encouragement that the festival affords them. They are already looking forward to next year and whatever opportunities come their way before then. In the meantime, they have an extraordinary musical memento of their strange time in lockdown.
Jennifer Henderson, Blue School Music Department