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Published on November 13th, 2009 | by Chloe Faulkner


Schools Prom 2009

One venue, three nights, three thousand performers

9, 10 & 11 NOVEMBER

Over three evenings at the Royal Albert Hall, young musicians from across the UK performed in three inspirational evenings showcasing the eclectic and energetic mix of musical styles performed and created by the next generation of talented performers in the UK.

Each concert had a different flavour, showcasing exclusive collaborations and featuring special guest performances.  Every evening was punctuated with a performance by a 550 strong Massed Choir, from Sing Up York on Monday, Wakefield on Tuesday and Hampshire on Wednesday who all presented world premieres of especially commissioned pieces. 

With so many exciting initiatives going on within the music education landscape, it’s a vibrant time for young people’s music making and these incredible concerts brought together over 3,000 inspiring young musicians, singers and dancers from every corner of the country.

2009 was the 35th series of Schools Prom concerts.  “This year’s concerts definitely felt different” says Music for Youth’s Chief Executive, Lincoln Abbotts “to put on three entirely different shows over three evenings is an incredibly ambitious venture but this is an ambitious organisation.  This year we had more groups collaborating than ever before and there were several themes running throughout the shows including space, Bollywood and even a tribute to Michael Jackson”.

On Monday 9 November, twenty-two, 14-19 year olds that make up Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows took to the stage.  The first tune the band preformed was 10cc’s I’m Not in Love, an emotional and ironic song about facing up to commitment.  The piece provided the band with the opportunity to demonstrate their dynamic range, somewhere between piano and mezzo-forte.  Next was a brooding and minimalist Trinidadian road song from the late Andre Tanker.  Finally they performed Dead or Alive, also from Trinidad, simply a celebration of the importance of Carnival in the Trinidadian calendar.  Summing up the lyrics from this piece, the writer is saying they will be back at Carnival the following year Dead or Alive.

Steel pans were placed in Leeds schools in the 1980s with government money designed to promote multi-culturalism, and benefit children of West Indian origin.  When the Trinidad All Stars brought their band to the UK in the 1950s they wanted everyone in the world to be able to play.  And, in the Sparrows they do. Most players were born in Leeds but their ethnic origins stretch as far as India, Morocco and Zimbabwe.  Players come together, from schools all over Leeds, with a shared love of this family of instruments, and most players take GCSE Music with pans as their main instrument.

The Schools Proms were hosted by composer and Singing Ambassador Howard Goodall, acclaimed lyricist Richard Stilgoe and Capital Radio and Classic FM presenter Margherita Taylor.  On the Tuesday evening there was also a guest presenter slot by Maxwell Golden, an intense young performer who links theatre, hip-hop, spoken word and comedy.

The 2009 Schools Prom concerts not only celebrated the achievements of students, but also celebrated the inspirational music teaching in the UK with the presentation of five Classic FM, Music Teacher of the Year awards, which were given out over the course of the three evenings.

The schools Proms mark the end of Music for Youth’s 2009 Season.  Entry for the 2010 Season is open now at www.mfy.org.uk.  Between February and April Music for Youth is holding its annual Regional Festival Series. These 70 festivals, held across the UK, are a great opportunity to perform to new audiences, listen to other groups from your area and get valuable feedback from the team of MFY Music Mentors.

“The Festivals are open to groups of any standard” says Lincoln Abbotts, “You can pitch up with your classroom project put together a month ago, or you can be a hugely polished choir or band.  All are equally valued and it’s a great learning experience for everyone.”

It’s free to get involved and Music for Youth welcomes all types of performing groups and any musical style.  If you know a group aged 21 or under who are looking for the chance to play, sing or showcase their latest compositions in an inspirational environment enter online now at www.mfy.org.uk


By Chloe Faulkner

Head of External Relations

Music for Youth

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