Mozart and flight were the inspirations for a music project which reached its climax at Southampton Airport on Thursday 27 January 2011 at 1pm. Fly Away Mozart brought together members of the renowned London Mozart Players (LMP), students from Woodlands Community College in Southampton and award-winning composer Michael Omer to create a piece of music which received its premiere on Mozart’s actual birthdate (he was born on 27 January 1756).
The College students visited the Airport in October 2010(see the earlier blog) to experience the sights and sounds of the Terminal building and Arrivals Hall. They then spent November working with musicians from the LMP and Michael Omer to create their piece. The resulting 15-minute piece, is based around three elements: the achievements of Geoff Wellum, the youngest Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain, the music which Mozart was writing at the same age as Geoff was when he started to fly, and the story of Edwin Moon, Southampton’s first pioneer aviator - his plane Moonbeam 2 left the ground in 1910, from a field, which was to later become the airport which stands on the site today.
The project, which was managed by Southampton’s Turner Sims concert hall, was funded by Find Your Talent-PUSH and Arts Council England. Kevin Appleby, Concert Hall Manager for Turner Sims said “The Airport story has been a great inspiration to everyone involved in making the piece, and Thursday’s event proved to be an exciting finale, in a very unusual but appropriate performance space with the Mozart birthday link an added bonus”.
In an interview for BBC Online Michael commented:
"The teenagers are a great bunch, and working with a small group has been very enjoyable, as they all had the opportunity to contribute ideas.
"Some of their talent is especially shown in their lyrics - one song about Edwin Moon's first successful flight in 1910, at what was to become Southampton Airport, produced some beautiful imagery, whilst the rap "Two Different Lives" is of course in a very contrasting style, and has some great wordplay on how Mozart and Spitfire pilot Geoffrey Wellum, at the same age of nineteen, experienced very different experiences in their own time and place!
Both ITV News for Meridian Tonight and BBC Radio Solent covered the event - the latter taking the opening of the piece "live" on the lunchtime news, with an extended report on Drivetime later in the day.
Michael went on: "The project was put together very quickly as the funding was about to disappear, due to the government's swingeing CSR cuts, so our work would have benefitted from a longer lead time, but the students have done brilliantly. I think we have achieved an increase in their musical awareness - but even better than that, I hope we have given them an excellent environment in which they felt at ease to collaborate with professional creatives, like us!!
"Performing in the arrivals hall was wonderfully mad, and possibly a first! Of course the airport had to carry on as normal with all the bustle and announcements, but we hope that the passengers enjoyed it - certainly different from what is normally to be seen going on in the average airport!"`