Camden schools raise the roof at 'joyful' Royal Albert Hall concert

More than 2,000 young singers and musicians from Camden schools and youth orchestras gave stunning performances at the Royal Albert Hall last night (Monday, 12 March), covering classical, pop, world music and jazz for an audience of proud parents, friends, school and council staff.

The Camden Music Festival, held every two years and now in its 20th year, is organised by the council’s music service and participating schools, including our primary, secondary and special schools, with support from the Camden Music Trust and sponsors.

The event was compered by Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, who described himself as a ‘proud Camden resident’. Jon Snow said: “It is not every day children as young as seven get to sing in the Royal Albert Hall – what an amazing experience.”

Highlights this year included an original composition called Wondrous Machine by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment composer James Redwood working with children from Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, Swiss Cottage School, Gospel Oak Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School. Based on a piece by Purcell, it involved every musician in the venue.

Among the other stand-out pieces was On Mass, a powerful drum and brass composition performed by students from William Ellis School, UCL Academy and Regent High School with musicians from Kinetika Bloco, as part of a collaboration with the Roundhouse.

Another world premiere was Mind the Gap, written by primary pupils using music sequencing software at the Camden City Learning Centre and taking inspiration from automated announcements on the London Underground.

The Camden Music Festival was fully inclusive, with children from Frank Barnes School joining in songs using British Sign Language and also playing instruments, while Swiss Cottage School’s students were heavily involved in Wondrous Machine and other pieces.

There were outstanding performances from the Camden Youth Orchestra, Camden Youth Jazz Band, Camden Concert Band and massed choirs of primary and secondary pupils.

Camden is the home of music, with its famous venues and musical heritage. Last night we continued that heritage with our wonderful young musicians. Which other borough could fill the Royal Albert Hall with more than 2,000 young singers and musicians and their proud parents?
Councillor Richard Cotton, Mayor of Camden

Other guests at the event included Councillor Angela Mason, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Best Start in Life; Martin Pratt, the council’s Executive Director of Supporting People, who praised the ‘joyful’ peformances and thanked everyone for their contributions, and Mike Cooke, the council’s Chief Executive.

Funding to support the Camden Music Festival this year came from Arts Council England, Camden Council, Camden Learning and the Camden Music Trust, which is continuing to fundraise in support of the work of the music service.

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