A group of 31 children from schools in the American city of Plymouth Massachusetts have been visiting Plymouth this week.
The children represent part of the international choir that has been rehearsing, via the internet, across the waves between Plymouth UK and Plymouth USA. Collectively, there will be over 100 US and UK children singing together, at their very first live concert to celebrate Mayflower 400 in Plymouth Guildhall.
The US visitors have been rehearsing, with their UK partner schools, at Notre Dame School before their final performance on Thursday at the Guildhall, in celebration of our international ties.
The visit has not just been about singing, during the week, the US children have visited the Mayflower steps and Barbican. They have enjoyed a reception at Elliott Terrace with the Lord Mayor, where they heard about the legacy of Lord and Lady Astor. They have been to a village fete in the grounds of Eggbuckland Community College, complete with cricket, cream tea and a brass band and completed their visit with a day trip to Dartmoor.
A total of 200 children from nine Plymouth schools are taking part in the performance on Thursday. City schools were invited to join the project to link with the Massachusetts chorus in an international dialogue of song. Plymouth schools UK began last September and have been linked to Plymouth US by the internet for rehearsals. They met for the first time on Tuesday to form the Mayflower 400 International choir.
Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health said: “This visit has been eagerly anticipated by the young people from both Plymouth locations. It brings together months of hard work and dedication, rehearsals over the internet and an immediate opportunity to meet the friends already made and to develop those friendships through music and song. We are delighted to welcome the International Chorus to Plymouth UK as part of our Mayflower 400 celebrations.”
Amongst the US group is the Brewster family who are direct descendants of William Brewster who sailed on the Mayflower back in 1620. 12 year old Noah will be singing with the group and his mum, Belinda and dad, Wrestling have come along to support him.
11th generation descendant Wrestling said “What an amazing opportunity for our son to come to Plymouth, England and sing in the place where our ancestors embarked on their epic journey. We are so proud of him. What a great opportunity for our two nations to reach across the vast ocean and create this wonderful collaboration. As we ramp up for the 400th celebration of the landing of the English pilgrims in Plymouth harbour it is encouraging to have this example of international fellowship as a model for the world.”
2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, arguably the most influential single voyage in the history of the world. The ship quite literally carried with it the seed of the American nation. The spirit of that voyage and the beliefs that motivated it led to the creation of the most powerful nation on earth. Mayflower 400 is a key milestone for the two Plymouth’s along with all the other destinations linked to the story and all are working closely together to make it a truly memorable occasion of international significance to both sides of the Atlantic.