The six songs created by Into Opera, Adisa the Verbalizer, Will Todd and the schools in Norwich form a song cycle titled

2020: You Won’t Hold Me Back!

The Tablet

‘“I choose love and joy and hope and share it round the world … I’m hoping for a world that wants to work together, I’m hoping for a cure to help the world recover, I’m hoping for a future that I’m yet to discover.”

This anthem, with its glorious, altruistic note of defiance, is the finale of a collection of songs that explores children’s experiences of the first lockdown.’

Primary schools join forces in song to share a message

This unprecedented year has called on us all to be creative, to embrace change and to be willing and ready to adapt. This does not just apply to adults, it applies to children too.

Will Todd has joined Into Opera and Performance Poet Adisa the Verbalizer to work with Six primary schools in Norwich to develop a major artistic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Together, they have created a song cycle which is set to forever capture an important slice of social history.
These songs will ensure that the perspective of these children from Norwich, about the Covid-19 pandemic and the sudden changes it brought to their lives, will not be forgotten.

The collaboration with schools has focussed on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children, encouraging them to open up and share their thoughts and feelings about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their lives.


Into Opera, Genevieve Raghu

“The public response to the pandemic seems to have been dominated by adults and politicians. We’ve not heard very much from children at all. I felt it was important to create an opportunity for children to tell their stories about the impact of the pandemic on their lives, to develop a project which would give children a voice and encourage them to dig deep emotionally.”

During lockdown in July 2020, children at home, or those in school, participated in virtual workshops with Into Opera and accessed activity packs which encouraged them to open up emotionally, producing poetry, letters, journals and art work in response to the pandemic and the children’s lockdown experiences.

Composer Will Todd

“It’s been incredibly moving to work with the words which the children have shared with us. Their words are heartfelt, thoughtful, kind, grateful, frustrated, funny, sad and utterly brilliant. I hope the music we’ve created with their words can help them express their thoughts, feelings, fears, and hopes as they move forward into the next part of their journey. I hope that what these children in Norwich have to say can be an inspiration to everyone who hears them singing these songs.”

Claire Furness, Deputy Headteacher St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School

“The children are so excited that their words, their feelings, their emotions have been put on to paper… it’s not only increased their self-esteem but it’s shown them that their thoughts are valued. It’s made them feel recognised and acknowledged.”

Sarah Claflin, Deputy Headteacher St Michael’s V.A. Junior School

As a result of this project, there is a great sense of achievement in the school and so much joy at a time when it could have been very different.”


This song cycle highlights some of the confusion and worries children faced right at the beginning of the first lockdown, it celebrates their families and the heroes in their lives as well as the little things that kept them smiling during lockdown. The empowering closing song showcases the children’s strength, bravery and resilience summed up in an important message, 2020: You Won’t Hold Me Back!

Norwich Schools participating in 2020: You Won’t Hold Me Back! St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School, The Bawburgh School, Falcon Junior School, St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School, St Michael’s V.A. Junior School, Sprowston Junior School

Opportunities for other schools If any more schools would like CPD inspired by this project, education resources, the music for the song cycle or to discuss a possible collaboration with Into Opera please get in touch:

This emergency response project has been generously supported by Anguish’s Educational Foundation




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