New Commission Helps Bring STEM Subject To Life

A special commission by award-winning composer Josephine Stephenson will premiere at a concert at Derby Theatre on March 12 featuring regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva and city students.

Sinfonia Viva has been working with young people on a creative project entitled ‘AlgoRhythms’  in partnership with Rolls-Royce plc and Derbyshire Music Education Hub designed to bring STEM subjects to life through music (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Around 80 students at Firs and Becket primary schools, The Bemrose School and Derby College have composed their own music, written songs and learnt new pieces inspired by the subject of coding.

The culmination concert at Derby Theatre on March 12 will also feature a new piece by Josephine Stephenson - inspired by the work of Ada Lovelace who was the daughter of Lord Byron and acclaimed as the first computer programmer during her career in the mid 19th century.

‘By Red’ - an anagram of Derby – features a five-note sequence played in different ways to evoke different colours and sounds.

Stephenson explained: “Just as different combinations of zeros and ones can mean entirely different things in the world of binary code, I was interested in exploring some of the different ways in which we can perceive a continuous five-note motif by changing the emphasis from one note or group of notes to another.”

Viva composer and workshop leader Raph Clarkson continued: “There are many links between coding and music with software developers and musicians alike working with a specific 'language', whether that is a type of computer code (e.g. Java or HTML), or musical notes on a score.

“This project is therefore a fascinating way of de-mystifying the STEM subject – exploring the background, theory and applications of coding through songs and music which aims to bring the subject to life for participants and the audiences alike.”

As well as playing alongside the young people, the 14-piece orchestra will perform pieces by famous and influential classical composers across the ages from Bach to Terry Riley to show how integral coding has been in musical creation.

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough concluded: “As an Orchestra with a national reputation for education work, we pride ourselves on taking truly collaborative approach to our work.

“Education projects such as these not only 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.”

Tickets for the evening performance cost from £6 and are available at

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