Hampshire County Council’s Music Service took over the world-famous venue for the whole evening on 23 April 2018, for an unprecedented performance opportunity – the largest event ever organised by the Music Service.
Nearly 200 Hampshire schools were represented at the event, by pupils aged from 7 to 19. They took part in a programme of performances that included wind, string and brass ensembles, orchestras, massed choirs, dancers and groups that specialise in samba, jazz and Japanese Taiko drumming. Special guests joining in Hampshire’s spectacular showcase were the Band of the Scots Guards, together with actors Sarah Parish as narrator, and Christian Brassington as compere.
The programme included the premiere of a newly commissioned work, ‘My World’; a thought-provoking piece highlighting humanity’s impact on our planet, by local lyricist Zella Compton and composer, Tom Guyer.
The programme covered a broad range of styles, from jazz to marching bands, and from classical pieces to Samba. In honour of the centenary of the end of the First World War, it also included performances of ‘We Will Remember Them’ and ‘Passchendaele’, composed by Major Simon Haw MBE. This piece is a tribute to the brave men who gave their lives in 1917 at Passchendaele, in one of the most notorious battles of the First World War. It was recently performed for the Sapphire Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen.
Wildern School in Hedge End had 115 pupils performing in the concert. Harriet Simmons, Director of Learning for Creative and Media Subjects at Wildern School, said: “'Hampshire at the Hall' gives our students first-hand experience of what it would be like to live and work as part of a professional performance company. Their confidence has soared sky high through the many rehearsals and I am exceptionally proud of everyone.”
Poppy, age 12, from Wildern School was one of 80 dancers performing a routine to ‘My World’. She said: “I was a bit overwhelmed when we first went into the arena. It was really exciting and when I was performing I couldn’t stop looking up and around at all the people watching. My mum and dad said it was a really good performance."
St Mary's CE Junior School in Old Basing, had 33 pupils performing at the concert. Head teacher Caroline Welch said: "How many children, or in fact adults, can say that they have performed at the Royal Albert Hall? Our children were enthralled. I loved watching their faces as they entered the auditorium for the first time - true awe and wonder. It was a wonderful celebration of the strength and depth of music in Hampshire."
Tom Welsh-Smythe, who is a pupil in Year 5 at St Mary's, sang with his class mates as part of the massed choir.
Tom said: “It was really exciting to sing at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve never been there before and it was a lifetime opportunity! We sang several songs. I was especially excited to sing ‘My World’ because it was the world premiere performance. The whole thing was really exciting. I really enjoy singing, especially jazzy, happy songs, and I am going to carry on singing in the choir.”
Hampshire Music Service co-ordinates bands, ensembles, orchestras and choirs for children and young people, all over Hampshire. The service organises some 400 performances every year, which can range from small gatherings of musicians and their families, to large events in public venues such as Winchester Cathedral, The Anvil and even The Royal Albert Hall. The service also supports schools to provide quality music tuition and affordable instrument hire to pupils.
Groups of young musicians from Hampshire’s ensembles and choirs have previously performed individual pieces at The Royal Albert Hall, as part of the Music for Youth proms, but this is the first time Hampshire Music Service’s young performers have given an entire concert at the prestigious venue.
For more information about Hampshire Music Service, and how to become involved, visit www.hants.gov.uk/hms. Photos by Richard Washbrooke.