Following the success of the award-winning Destinies, a project working with asylum seeking young people that culminated in November 2021 at Derby Theatre, we have continued working closely with Derbyshire County Council Virtual School, Orchestras Live and Learning Through Arts to develop the next phase of the programme.

“I see now my dream – to be a musician” Participant

In November 2022 the Sinfonia Viva Creative Projects Team ran a series of creative consultation sessions in Wirksworth with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children through the Culture Café and the wider partnership. Sessions took place during June and July 2022 and following the overwhelming success of these, an ambitious residential weekend session of creative music and movement took place in November 2022.

The weekend of creative expression and musical exploration involved 21 young people from Albania, Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iran and Chad. These participants worked with dance artist Debi Hedderwick, Sinfonia Viva team Raph Clarkson, Raghad Haddad and Dave Ayre, alongside creative mentors and Derbyshire Virtual School staff. 

“I enjoyed the viola and guitar [double bass] – I don’t know many times when I’ve had the chance to listen in my life, you know. I’m so happy for that.” Participant

Each day began with a wellbeing wake up movement session accompanied by live music. This session was designed to encourage connection between the group members and team, allowing people to express themselves more freely throughout the day and to prepare for the sessions which would follow. 

Across the weekend, there were a wide range of activities including

  • Movement games using elastics, light balls and lots of creativity
  • Singing
  • Walking up to the Star Disc to take inspiration from the constellations and the sky
  • Creating new songs
  • Listening to the Sinfonia Viva team share music
  • Playing together as a band
  • Cooking and eating together
  • Sharing languages

There were some beautiful moments of connection and one of the clearest of these was during a hello song, where members of the group offered up their own language to be added to the hello song. These included Albanian, Sudanese Arabic, Tigrinya, Amharic, Pashto and Dari, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani and Chad Arabic. The impact of these sessions meant the young people felt empowered to use their language of choice when creating new songs, which increased there confidence in producing music and allowed them express themselves fully and truly explore their voices.   

“I liked using my language” Participant

The Sinfonia Viva team played a range of music throughout the weekend, and this proved to be an extremely popular element, with many of the young people reflecting that they loved to hear the musicians play and connected especially well with Raghad’s viola. 

Two of the young people shared a Kurdish song which they loved to play. The whole group then worked together to create a new arrangement of this piece, which was shared with carers in a very informal sharing at the end of the weekend.

 “I really enjoyed every moment of this weekend, it felt smooth, positive and I particularly loved the multi-cultural mix between the group members.” Raghad Haddad, Viola, Sinfonia Viva

The weekend also included plenty of shared meals and socialising time for the young people and team, enabling friendships to be built and understanding to grow.

We cannot wait to see where the partnership with Culture Café, Learning Through Arts, Derbyshire County Council Virtual School and Orchestras live goes next!

The Culture Café Makes Music project is supported by Derbyshire County Council, Orchestras Live, Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust and Arts Council England.