Musicians from the Northern Chamber Orchestra (NCO) have recently completed a remote music education project with primary and secondary schools in Stockport, culminating in a seven-minute-long piece of music.  

The online workshops, run by the NCO’s double bassist James Manson from his home Derbyshire and cellist Matthew Sharp from his home in France took place between April and June 2021, and included students from St George’s Primary School, Stockport School and Dial Park Primary School. The aim of the project, which was sponsored by Stockport software company CDL, was to compose a piece of music inspired by the Rondo movement from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, K622. After some detailed analysis of the structure of the Mozart, the students came up with some chord sequences and melodies, varying from tiny fragments to complete eight-bar phrases. These were developed over several weeks, then arranged and orchestrated by James Manson, who also put together a video of the piece, which can be viewed below.

The NCO’s Education Coordinator Lawrence Dinh said, “It’s been an incredible journey working on this project, from introducing ourselves to the schools via YouTube, to discovering each class’s own musical voices and talents. We could not have done this without the huge effort from all the schools involved, and the enthusiasm and energy from the students have been unrivalled, despite never meeting face-to-face. I think the quality of the finished piece speaks for itself – it is such a tremendous achievement from everyone involved.” 

The NCO has worked with school children for many years, but 2021 marks the first time a project has been delivered remotely. Usually, members of the orchestra would visit the schools involved several times over the course of the project, concluding with both a school concert of the culminating piece, and a public concert of the works that inspired it, to which the pupils involved are invited for free.  

The KS4 element of the project was designed to complement the current AQA GCSE music syllabus, and the NCO are now welcoming enquiries from schools for similar projects. Teachers and music practitioners can contact Lawrence by emailing