A group of young people have performed alongside professional musicians from Derby-based regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva after joining a creative project tackling the emotive subject of global warming.

Students from Becket and Firs primary schools, The Bemrose School and Derby College took part in ‘Energy’ – the latest in the award-winning Orchestra’s series of projects aimed at bringing science, maths and technology subjects to life through music.

The project started with 80 students joining an inspiration day at Derby Museum & Art Gallery where they worked with science director, film maker and children’s author Emma Murphy to learn more about the world’s reliance on fossil fuels, the impact of these on the earth’s climate and the future of renewable energies.

They then took part in workshops with Viva composers and musicians to learn new songs written by James Redwood and Hazel Gould and compose their own music.

‘Energy’ culminated in two performances at Derby Theatre where the students performed alongside the Orchestra under the baton of Principal Conductor Frank Zielhorst.

As well as learning the songs, they incorporated sign language into the performances which was also fully BSL interpreted for the audience by Sarah Gatford.

The afternoon concert was attended by pupils for other schools in the city and county who also learnt and joined in the songs after working with Derby and Derbyshire Music Partnership and working through education packs about renewable energy.

As well as playing alongside the young people, the 14-piece orchestra performed three short pieces including a specially-commissioned composition by female composer Dani Howard which is a contemporary take on Beethoven’s third of six Bagatelles to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Viva composer and workshop leader Jessie Grimes said: “It was clear throughout the project that climate change is something that even the youngest of the participants were very engaged with.

“Hearing the emotion that the young people brought to the song lyrics resonated with everyone in the audience that changing our focus from fossil fuels to renewable energy is something we should all care about and strive for.”

The project’s science director Emma Murphy, who has worked on renewable energy projects for many years, added: “The story of energy and the impact on the world today is one of the most pressing issues of our time.

“Explaining the science of global warming through music is incredibly powerful and I hope it will encourage these young people to now be more confident and engaged in their science classroom lessons.”

Liz Stewart is lead KS2 teacher at Becket Primary School in Derby. She continued: “We have been fortunate enough to be involved in several STEAM projects with Viva which have greatly helped in improving the pupils’ understanding of science and technology subjects.

“The ‘Energy’ project is closely linked to the curriculum and looks at the subject in a different and fun way so that the children don’t realise just how much they are learning.”

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough concluded: “Education projects such as these provide a wonderful creative and learning experience for the young participants.

“They also enable teachers to further develop their own artistic and leadership skills and to take these beyond the life of the project.

“The culmination concert was a wonderful mix of music performed by the young people and pieces performed by the Orchestra.”

This project was supported by Derby City Council supporting the Department for Education’s Opportunity areas Programme, Arts Council England, Orchestras Live, The D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Tom Carey Fund, Foundation Derbyshire and Rolls-Royce.