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Danish High School pupils compose

When some notes grow up and end up in a symphonic orchestra concert

Danish High School pupils compose was a cooperation project between the Copenhagen Phil orchestra, and the Gymnasium Schools (High Schools) of Aurehøj, Sankt Annæ, Christianshavn, Allerød and Borupgård. Initiator and responsible for the project was Elsebet Speyer, and artistically and compositionally responsible: Mogens Christensen.

The seks gymnasium schools’ Music lines had been invited to send some pupils, who were interested in composing, to participate in a programme running over three weekends.
On the first Saturday, they met and heard some of the orchestra’s strings. Instruments were played and demonstrated, effects and possibilities were shown, questions were posed. For the rest of that weekend, the pupils created a piece for these 5 strings. On the next Saturday, the musicians would come again, play and comment, before the pupils, a few hours later, were to meet a wind quintet. The following week they were to compose for the wind quintet. During the last week, the programme was closed with a demonstration of brass instruments.

During the coming number of weeks, the pupils worked under the guidance of Mogens Christensen. Finally, on Store Bededags Aften (A Friday evening in May which, according to Danish tradition, is a national holiday), they were going to listen to their own works played by the orchestra. Six young persons went right through,- and in the coming weeks they were terribly busy in order to catch up with all the lessons they had missed out on during the previous 3 weeks prior to their final student exams (graduation) …

The project called for very many comments, here one from one of the participating pupils called Berit: “The most fantastic part of it was the very intense relations, we obtained to the music, both old and new. We learned to listen, and simultaneously got to know the single instruments …”

Conductor Frans Rasmussen: ”… the concert – and the workshop prior to it – with six gymnasium pupils and their compositions, totally outshines everything else … let me finish with a thrilled roar to the right persons: PLEASE DO IT AGAIN!”

Danish Conductor Michael Schønwandt, who, on this very evening was to be found among the audience, after the concert said a.o.: “… In every possible way this was a great experience to participate in. The young persons, who had written works for this occasion, all had obvious profit from working with the orchestra’s members, and especially with Mogens Christensen … And I can only warmly recommend such important projects to be made in future.”

Nina Haldor Hansen, president of the orchestra’s programme group, concluded: ”… one of the greatest educational successes in the history of the Copenhagen Phil.”

The project was supported by the Danish State Music Council, the Kulturens Børn (Children of Culture) (Ministry for Culture) and the Copenhagen Phil. The Copenhagen Phil released a small booklet called Gymnasieelever komponerer (Gymnasium pupils compose) with a survey of the project and with comments by the participants.