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Children’s Oratorio

Our Future in Your Hands

In 2019, ROSL ARTS partnered with the Buxton International Festival to co-commission a Children’s Oratorio, composed by Kate Whitley with words by Laura Attridge. The premiere performances of Our Future in Your Hands were due to take place in Coventry and Buxton in spring and summer 2020, but obviously could not take place due to the global pandemic. We are pleased to report that the world premiere finally happened in September 2021, given by the Multi-Story Orchestra with children from schools in and around Peckham in London.

The Multi-Story Orchestra is a ground-breaking ensemble who perform in carparks and unexpected places. They are based at Bold Tendencies, which itself is based in the multi-storey carpark in the centre of Peckham. They work closely with local schools and we were delighted that the children of Peckham were able to participate in the first performances of this amazing piece.

The resulting work by Kate and Laura is an epic piece imagining the world recovering from climate change and being reborn again in the future.

There are two choirs – one representing the voice of anger and protest, and one the voice of future optimism and change. The three soloists portray an astronaut, looking down to Earth from space and seeing the world as a whole for the first time; a man deciding whether or not to have a child; and a woman struggling to find water and survive in an apocalyptic future. Through their stories and the choir’s protest songs, the piece goes on a journey from terror and destruction to the imagining of how the world could be if we survived and recovered.

The performance space at Bold Tendencies is a unique one with London commuter trains passing by on both sides of the car park, and yet it works, because of the energy and commitment of performers, both professionals and children in bringing a work such as this to life. Erica Jeal, reviewing the premiere in The Guardian, said that “there was certainly an adrenaline-based reaction to be had from experiencing the sheer volume of sound amid these echoing concrete walls, for listeners and for the children too.

This, not extra maths and English, is what children have been missing out on over the last year and a half: the chance to be part of a big, creative, communal experience. It’s more than useful – it’s essential.”

The oratorio will be next performed as part of the Buxton International Festival in 2022, with plans for future performances in Gloucester and Cape Town, South Africa.

The chance to be part of a big, creative, communal experience. It’s more than useful – it’s essential