We Share This Space | Twin Song | Ant & Cleo | Troy Story | Masterplan | Space of Possibilities

We Share This Space

A Symphonic Poem for Youth Jazz Orchestra and Voices.

A Coventry Music / Talking Birds project where members of the Coventry Music Talent Development Programme worked with Writer Liz Mytton & Composer Derek Nisbet of Talking Birds to create We Share This Space – A Symphonic Poem for Jazz Orchestra and Voices, inspired by a journey along Coventry Canal.

Performed by the Coventry Youth Jazz Orchestra, TDP members and the Choir of Alderman’s Green Primary School and recorded during a LIVE performance at the Belgrade Theatre, June 2018.

We share this space
This concrete snake, this fake river
Man-made and complex life giver
Call it what you will, what you see is just a sliver

We Share This Space lyrics by Liz Mytton

Ant & Cleo: the musical

Ant&Cleo was created in collaboration with Orchestra of the Swan and Welcombe Hills, Brays and Bridgetown schools, and was premiered at Stratford ArtsHouse in November 2014.

He was Rome’s greatest general. She was Egypt’s rich and beautiful queen. Together, they were the world’s most famous couple. Luckily, all the icky love stuff has been written about by Plutarch and Shakespeare, so this brand new family-friendly opera can concentrate on Antony and Cleopatra’s lesser known ice cream eating competition, noodle-fishing and games of knock-and-run.

But there’s still an empire to conquer, and ships to sink, and a poisonous snake to avoid. Can Antony and Cleopatra turn back time? Or will that annoy the God of Time, who really hates people doing that? Ant & Cleo is a re-telling of the classic story using a sweeping orchestral score, stunning design, and even more cheap gags than the epic Troy Story.

Many of you voted for us and our partners Orchestra of the Swan in The People’s Millions, winning funding for the project. The production features 100 extraordinary young people drawn from two schools for children with special needs (Welcombe Hills and Brays) and Bridgetown Primary School, alongside the superb orchestral forces of the Swan and four brilliant soloists – Birds’ regulars Sam Fox of Kiln Theatre, Jake Oldershaw of Untied Artists and Louise Wayman return, and we’re delighted to welcome Themba Mvula to the ranks.

You can watch a short trailer here.

Troy Story

Troy Story revived our earlier Space Odyssey built on the Orchestra of the Swan‘s successful long term relationship with Welcombe Hills School in Stratford Upon Avon to develop a production (involving 80 children from 3 schools, an orchestra of 11, 4 adult soloists and a narrator) which transposed Homer’s Odyssey into space – and added the Illiad as a prequel.

It is the year 3000 and Odysseus is at home with his wife, son, robot and electronic goldfish when he is summoned to the war on Troy, a planet on the other side of the Galaxy.

He might be the cleverest of all Earth’s Generals but has he got enough horse sense to defeat the Trojans? And can he get home through hyper space – which is packed with Sirens, nine headed monsters and giant one eyed sheep farmers? And will he get back before his wife gets fed up of knitting duvet covers and marries somebody else?

All these questions and more will be answered in an intergalactic opera made by Orchestra Of the Swan and Talking Birds in collaboration with Welcombe Hills, Thomas Jolyffe and Wilmcote schools.

Featuring lots of singers, a bit of fighting and a few tricks, Troy Story takes two epic yarns from ancient Greece, puts them into the future and re tells them in round about an hour and a half.

Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey, set in space.

[See our photo album on our Flickr] or [Listen to the overture on SoundCloud]

“The result was stunning. A packed arena-style audience was enthralled as Odysseus and his crew made the ten-year journey home after victory on the planet Troy…Curtis conducted his willing orchestra with verve in Derek Nisbet’s communicative score, Nick Walker’s script was a model of wit and directness, and vocal coach Rebecca Ledgard drew every ounce of pathos and glee from these amazing children.”

[Birmingham Post]


Masterplan was a 3 year project in association with Creative Partnerships in two Coventry schools. It involved a number of investigations, at least one sculpture, 13 sets of school toilets and a mention on (sadly no longer John Craven’s) Newsround.

At Stivichall Primary School, the project was very much about transitiion – straddling the period of the ending of one school and the start of another. Initially, Talking Birds worked with years 2 and 5 to investigate the outdoor space of the school site and to create a sculpture that would act as a focal point for parents gathering at the end of the day. We treated this as our ‘levelling stone’, and made something which echoed the roofline of the existing school building (which was to be demolished once the new school was built), and incorporated objects and lenses through which we would literally as well as figuratively see the school differently.

Talking Birds worked alongside the architects at the start of the design process for the new Stivichall school building, getting pupils and staff involved in looking at the existing building with a view to making the most of the site, transferring features that worked and determining what a twenty-first century school might need to be. Once the school was built, we worked with a mixed age group of children to design all the new toilet blocks.

In Finham Secondary School, it was more of a straightforward re-design of existing and badly-vandalised toilets. We now hold the view that, actually, the toilets are pretty much the most important thing to get right in a school, because they are the one place where children and young people are unobserved and vulnerable – we could go on, but we wouldn’t want to put you off your tea, but if you are interested in a further conversation about this, do get in touch.

The Space of Possibilities

A cultural strategy.

Sounds dull, sometimes it is dull, and the process of writing can be even duller. Its impact on a city, though, is huge, or at least it should be. And if it isn’t, then what’s the point of writing it at all?

We wanted to explore a different way of creating, and then presenting, a cultural strategy. We thought a good way of starting would be to ask people who’d never heard of a cultural strategy.

Download a PDF of the accompanying programme leaflet by clicking here.

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