400 Hampshire Children Raise the Roof of the Royal Albert HallOver 400 Hampshire school children enjoyed a once in a lifetime opportunity to sing on the national stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

Singing a specially arranged version of Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’, they joined hundreds of other children from all over the UK to perform in BBC Music’s ‘Ten Pieces’ concert.

Commenting after the event on Saturday, that helped to kick start the BBC Proms season, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, said that he was “immensely proud that the county had been represented so magnificently at such an auspicious event and in such a prestigious and iconic venue”.

As one of the BBC’s 240 Ten Pieces Champions, Hampshire County Council’s Music Service has been working with 13 junior and primary schools on this piece of work since the autumn, culminating in Saturday’s performance on the national stage.

BBC Ten Pieces is a new, national initiative involving 21,000 schools, led by BBC Learning and BBC performing groups. The aim is to introduce a generation of children to a range of classical music, inspiring them to use the music as a stimulus for their own creativity.

Children were able to respond to a choice of one of ten pieces of classical music and develop their own interpretation of the selected piece through music composition, dance, digital art and other art forms, as well as taking part in performances of the pieces.

The piece that the BBC Singers chose and invited specially selected champions, such as Hampshire Music Service, to participate in was written by George Frideric Handel for the coronation of George II in 1727, and is played at every coronation since then.

BBC Ten Pieces has also had the involvement of the five BBC Orchestras and the BBC Singers as well as celebrities such as Barney Harwood from Blue Peter and childrens’ TV presenters Dick and Dom.

Quotes:

Gavin Hayman, Headteacher from Kings Copse Primary School, Hedge End, said: “Seated above the orchestra with a cracking view of the auditorium, our children were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience they will never forget. The event was inspirational and provided a lovely coda to a year’s work on the BBC Ten Pieces project. Kathryn Stanely, Music Leader at the school, added: “Listening to (and feeling) the music of Holst, Beethoven and others at close quarters was truly exhilarating.”

Mrs Maria McCusker, Headteacher, Hale Primary School, said: “The BBC and Hampshire Music Service provided the children of Hale School with a once in a lifetime experience . Zadok the Priest will be forever imprinted in our musical brains. It has inspired us all and hopefully the next generation of ‘performers’ too.”

Chris Parker, Headteacher of Orchard Junior School, Dibden Purlieu, said: “It was a day Orchard Junior’s Choir will never forget! From the opening notes of “Mars, Bringer of War” to the fabulous Firebird at the end of the concert, the children were utterly spellbound. You don’t get to be accompanied by the National Orchestra of Wales every day either! What an amazing opportunity!

Sarah Mullins, Deputy Headteacher, The Crescent Primary School, Eastleigh, said: “It was an incredible once in a lifetime experience for our children. The talent on display from schools around the country in response to the BBC Ten Pieces was inspirational.”

Alison Langrish, Headteacher of Otterbourne Church of England Primary School said: “It was, without doubt, an experience that all those involved in will treasure. The 26 children from Otterbourne CE Primary School were spellbound by the magnificence of The Royal Albert Hall, mesmerised by the prestigious orchestra and enthralled by the many ways each of the BBC 10 Pieces were performed. Without exception, they each felt immensely privileged to have contributed to the brilliant performance of Handel’s ‘Zadok, the Priest’ and, as their headteacher, I felt incredibly proud of each of them. Well done the BBC – what an inspirational project it has been.”

Veronica Shaw, Headteacher, Scantabout Primary School, Chandler’s Ford, said: “I have been a teacher/headteacher since the early 1980’s and can say that, without a doubt, this was the most exciting event I have ever had the pleasure to take part in. The atmosphere in the hall was electric and it was a total joy to see and hear children making such glorious music together.”

Caroline Welch, Headteacher, St Mary’s Church of England Junior School, Old Basing said: “This was an amazing opportunity for our children to sing such a wonderful piece, alongside so many other children and with a professional orchestra. “We are incredibly proud of all of our pupils’ achievements in music at St Mary’s, but to say that you have sung at the Royal Albert Hall is surely the icing on the cake!”

Karen Stonehouse, Headteacher of Bartley Church of England Junior School, New Forest, said: “Rehearsing at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing. The sound the children made was incredible, especially when they came to perform with the orchestra, but when they performed to the audience they were breathtakingly brilliant. It was like a professional adult choir singing in a cathedral for a state ceremony. Awesome!”