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When Words Fail, Music Speaks

A moving musical collaboration between school pupils with complex educational needs and professional musicians as they create and perform an original show together.

Producer Peter Curran and Blanche Girouard, who teaches in a mainstream school, capture an extraordinary musical collaboration between school pupils with complex educational needs and professional musicians, as they create and perform an original show together.

William Carslake and Patrick Stockbridge have successful careers composing and playing with orchestras and choirs. Another side of their life is bringing musical composition, stage performance and having a good time exploring instruments to young people who have special educational needs around the UK. The work they create together then becomes part of performance festivals and events alongside mainstream schools.

In this programme, they develop a musical about food, the senses, and being lost in the jungle. It's a noisy, funny and inspirational process. They have just 48 hours to write the show from scratch, before a performance in front of the whole school. We hear the thoughts and reactions of pupils and composers as they put their shoulders to the task.

The programme also offers a powerful illustration of the skills and effort by dedicated teachers and carers at the school in Telford, as they shape classes and creative experiences around the changing, often complex needs of each young person in their care.

A Foghorn Company production for BBC Radio 4.

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30 minutes

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