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University of Chichester unites with Bulgarian performers in show of support for European exchange

THE voices of international performers – backed by lecturers from the University of Chichester – have sounded out across Bulgaria in a show of support for European cultural exchange.

Hundreds watched as musicians, singers, and dancers joined academics from the West Sussex institution for a one-off collaborative concert in Plovdiv – this year’s European capital of culture. The Horov Sklad performance, which translates as Choir Factory, was partly curated by tutors from the University’s Conservatoire with the intention of contributing to raising educational aspirations in the city.

It also marked the latest stage of a student exchange agreement, known as Erasmus+, between Chichester and Bulgaria’s Academy of Music Dance and Fine Art (AMDFA) which runs until 2022.

Hundreds watched as musicians, singers, and dancers joined academics from Chichester

Senior lecturers Paul Ackerley and Karen Howard, who lead the Musical Theatre degrees at the University, helped to develop the concert after securing funding from Arts Council England.

Mr Ackerley said: “International cultural exchange is an invaluable part of education not only for Chichester but UK universities as a whole. This emerging high-profile relationship with Plovdiv, thanks to the Arts Council funding we secured, will help us in our mission to reduce barriers to education for people living in areas of low-participation.”

From the external funding, University academics and their AMDFA counterparts devised the one-hour Horov Sklad concert with an 80-strong group of performers – comprising three choirs of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and a dance company. It is the latest in a series of cultural events, which started at the London 2012 Olympics, immersing audiences in unusual urban spaces across Europe.

Onlookers at the Horov Sklad event were guided by performers around Plovdiv’s historic SKLAD buildings: former tobacco warehouses in the city's regeneration area which have been converted into galleries, performing venues, and artists workspaces.

University cellist Laura Ritchie, a Professor of Learning and Teaching

Dancers interacted with choirs to give physical expression to the songs which were accompanied by University cellist Laura Ritchie, a Professor of Learning and Teaching responsible for Chichester Music with Instrumental/Vocal Teaching degrees, and singer Rebecca Askew.

The Erasmus+ programme, which is fully-supported by the University of Chichester was established by the European Union to promote learning at higher education establishments. The Horov Sklad concert in Bulgaria is part of a number of initiatives led by its academics to reduce barriers to education in the UK and overseas.

For more about the University of Chichester’s Conservatoire and how it is working to raise educational opportunities across Europe go to www.chi.ac.uk/conservatoire. There's more on Horov Sklad performance in Plovdiv at http://plovdiv2019.eu/en/events/2386-horov-sklad-1-december.

The one-hour Horov Sklad concert comprised an 80-strong group of performers