The Royal Albert Hall provided the backdrop to an inspirational evening of music making by Merton schools and Merton Music Foundation on Monday 22 April.
Launching Music is for Life 2013 was a 200-strong massed concert band, massed strings, guitars and a rock band joined by 1200 singers from Merton Primary, Secondary and Special schools to perform the Olympic anthem, ‘Proud’. This stunning opening summed up what was to follow - ‘What did you do today to make you feel proud?’
This impressively well-produced show, moving slickly and seamlessly between items, saw the Foundation’s strings and guitars perform on stage, its youth concert band in the arena and a highly polished youth jazz orchestra with no less than three singers giving us a spirited rendering from the big band era.
An undoubted highlight of the evening was the ‘Golden Heart’ a performance by Key Stage 3 pupils from Cricket Green School and Key Stage 2 pupils from Perseid School. A bold, beautifully produced, very professional performance by children and teachers from the two special schools.
To conclude the first half of the concert we heard wonderfully rhythmic playing from the Foundation’s percussion ensembles joined by the massed schools choir in ‘Ain't No Mountain High Enough’. This was followed by rousing performances from the Music is for Life Massed Concert Band.
The second half witnessed a spectacular performance of ‘The Journey’ by the Merton Schools Massed Choir, London Vocal Project and Merton Youth Music. Featuring guest soloists Gary Palmer, Guillermo Rozenthuler and members of the LVP, this piece was an inspirational ‘lesson’ in history and musical styles as it charted the history of immigration over the last one thousand years into the UK. Written by world-renowned musician and educator Pete Churchill, the performance was the culmination of six month’s work with twenty-eight Merton Primary, Secondary and Special schools as part of the charity’s borough-wide singing strategy.
Before the concert, Panash Community Steel Orchestra and samba from Bloco St Mark’s gave warmly received performances in the foyer and to the packed audience in the main arena.
Merton Music Foundation has received an accolade of praise from schools, parents and performers for its incredible concert engaging over 1,500 children and young people from the London Borough of Merton.
Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams, said: "I was honoured to be a guest at the Music is for Life performance at the Royal Albert Hall and watch Merton's talented schoolchildren perform to such a high standard. Congratulations to everyone from Merton who took part in this spectacular show."
Merton Council's cabinet member for education, Councillor Martin Whelton said: "I was delighted to witness over 1,000 Merton schoolchildren performing at the Royal Albert Hall; they have really done their schools and borough proud. Music is a fantastic hobby for everyone, especially young people and I commend the Merton Music Foundation for instilling a love of music in our children and getting them to be part of the Music is for Life performance."
You can view videos and a photogalleries from our Royal Albert Hall performance here.