The Sky Engine: bringing communities together
Local amateurs join professional musicians to shine a light on one of the most pressing issues of our time in Richard Peat and Timothy Knapman’s Community Oratorio, The Sky Engine. This commission brings a diverse group of musicians together, with all of them playing a meaningful and integral part in the performance: children from two Romney Marsh schools and community players will perform alongside the choristers of Canterbury Cathedral Choir, the London Mozart Players (LMP), opera singers Rebecca Afowny-Jones and Julian Close, actor Kudzanayi Chiwawa and conductor Michael Bawtree.
The Sky Engine tackles the important subject of climate change, following in the footsteps of Britten’s Noyes Fludde, and builds on JAM’s decade-long work with schools – a true Pro-Am collaboration. The libretto, written by children’s author Timothy Knapman, tells the story of an ambitious inventor who attempts to solve the climate crisis by creating a machine that can draw energy from the sky. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong and it’s left to the scientist’s daughter, Flora, to put things right.
Over the past year professional singer Rebecca Lodge Birkebaek has been working with children from St Nicholas and Brookland primary schools, enabling them to take part and get introduced into the world of music. At JAM on the Marsh they will have the opportunity of a lifetime, playing side-by-side with established performers to bring this wonderful story to life.
The Sky Engine is not just a delightful new piece of music, but a powerful commentary of what is possible when communities come together to take action. The world premiere on 14 July will be an unforgettable experience, for both the audience and performers alike.
Richard Peat and Timothy Knapman will discuss their new work with Festival Curator Nicholas Cleobury on Fri, 14 July at 5.30pm in The Ship Inn, New Romney. Meet the composer and librettist to find out what inspired the story and how the music was created – no tickets needed.
Read more about the “joys and challenges of composing a community oratorio” in Richard’s BBC Music Magazine article.