We are pleased to share news of a spectacular event being organised by affiliated corporate members of the Society, Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club.

On 1st and 2nd April primary school children from the Harrogate and Ripon area will be singing and acting in Harrogate’s beautiful Royal Hall. They will be performing The Last Dragon, a show which they have helped to create. With the help of composer Roland Fudge and author Guy Wilson the children have written six of the songs that tell the story and have also painted artwork which illustrates the story book that has already been published and will also feature in the concert programme. It’s all part of a long-running initiative by our member Harrogate Brigantes Rotary called Kids Aloud.

Brigantes has been organising Kids Aloud Concerts every two years since 2009. Over the years these events have grown in popularity and the concert in 2017, Kids in the Limelight, was our first sell-out. It all began as an idea to help get children involved in raising money for good causes. And over the years the concerts have raised substantial amounts for a number of international charities and appeals. It was only gradually that it was realised that the opportunity that Kids Aloud gave local children to perform and even create what they performed was equally if not more important. So it was that for the 2015 concert was something very different. Composer Phil Wilby and club member Guy Wilson worked with the young performers and helped them create an hour-long musical, Circus Of Life, about endangered species, which they then performed. It was a great success. The young musicians had seen a creative process through from beginning to end, working with experienced professionals, and they also helped to raise some £9000 for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Then for 2019 Brigantes developed the most ambitious, complex and challenging project it has ever undertaken. For some years Brigantes had been working on a project in Nepal on a project to improve the education of at least some children in one of the world’s poorest countries by promoting computer-based learning in schools in the remote Panchamul valley.  So why not involve them in Kids Aloud?  And that is what happened. Guy Wilson found and re-wrote an old Nepali folk tale, Monkey Boy, and the Indian-born composer Shri Sriram was engaged. Children in Nepal as well as around Harrogate were involved in writing the songs, and a choir of 40 kids came over from Nepal to take part in the concerts.

But next time has been long in coming. For 2021 Brigantes had planned “Save the World” concerts in the Royal Hall and a “Save the World” exhibition of the children’s ideas and hopes and fears in Ripon Cathedral. Sadly, of course, Covid 19 put a stop to that. However, while plans for 2021 were developing, thoughts were also turning to the next “create and perform” Kids Aloud. The participating schools decided that a good subject for a concert would be dragons, those mythical creatures loved and feared by children.  No suitable traditional tale being found, Guy Wilson wrote an entirely new one, The Last Dragon. The costs of creating the music have been covered by a generous grant from Youth Music using public funding from the National Lottery via Arts Council England; the children have now written their songs and they are all hard at work rehearsing.

Over 400 Yorkshire children from 13 primary schools around Harrogate and Ripon have helped to create the show, and what they have achieved is truly amazing.  The result will be two magical evenings showcasing the talent of Yorkshire’s youngsters. So now all we need to do is to fill the Royal Hall to give these wonderful children the best possible reception and an experience they will never forget.  

The Last Dragon performance: Royal Hall, Harrogate, 6.30 pm

Tickets (£15m under 17s £5) from Harrogate Box Office, Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF; www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk ; phone: 01423 502116; email bookings@harrogatetheatre.co.uk

The Last Dragon is available as a book illustrated by children from schools participating in this concert, price £6 from Imagined Things Bookshop, Harrogate and The Little Ripon Bookshop, Ripon or, (plus pp) from the author at kidsaloud@rotaryharrogatebrigantes.org.uk

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