Unsung Heroes

Heritage, song-writing & performance for primary schools

Unsung Heroes is a project by Cohere Arts in partnership with Suffolk Archives, Asset Education and Britten Pears Arts, made possible with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund. So far, the project has involved over 400 KS2 children from 13 Asset Education primary schools from all over Suffolk.

A cartoon child is singing, their arms outstretched. Musical notes hang in the air around them. They are wearing a superhero cape on which is written the words Unsung Heroes.

In the first stage of the project, year 5 pupils took part in heritage workshops led by Suffolk Archives. Guided by historians, each group delved into archive documents, maps and photographs to find some of the untold stories from their school’s neighbourhood. Within their research, they uncovered an amazing array of ‘everyday heroes’ with fascinating real-life stories to tell.

Suffolk Archives’ Mandy Rawlins leading a heritage workshop

Unsung Heroes Songbook

Next, each school had a visit from one of four Suffolk composers (Francis Goodhand, Charly Jolly, Amy Mallett & Kitty Morgan). In a songwriting workshop led by their composer, the children explored the songwriting potential of their chosen heroes and worked collaboratively to generate musical and lyrical ideas. They also took part in creative activities to develop their confidence as singers and storytellers.

Kitty Morgan working with children at Castle Hill Primary School
Amy Mallett working with Holton St Peter Primary School

Our four composers went away and refined all the children’s ideas into 14 brand new songs; the Unsung Heroes Songbook. These range in style from pop and rap to folk and musical theatre, telling the tales of brave soldiers, convicted criminals and even pub landlords!

“We’re sharing our Suffolk history round to everyone but not in a boring way…it’s like in a fun, catchy way with a song.”

Year 6 songwriter

Once the songs were complete, Choral Director Tom Appleton visited each school to lead a singing workshop in which pupils and staff learned their school’s very own Unsung Heroes song.

You can to demos of all the songs on our YouTube playlist:

Unsung Heroes Concert

Finally, 50 year 6 children from across all 13 schools joined together to form the Unsung Heroes choir. After attending a series of after school rehearsals, on Sat 18th Nov 2023 the choir gave a public performance of the entire Unsung Heroes Songbook at prestigious concert venue Snape Maltings. Accompanied by a live band, the children also co-created their own choreography to produce an entertaining and first-class performance.

Unsung Heroes Concert Finale – Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, 18th Nov 2023

“The whole experience has been superb, and incredibly profesionally run. For the children (and we) to have connected with such talented musicians has been a privilege, and a trip to Snape is always a joy! Thank you for allowing us to take part. I’ll be something that lives with the children forever.”

Head Teacher

Project team

This project was made possible by: