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05 June 2023


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MUSICfest (Music Unites Schools in Creativity Festival) is United Learning’s latest music and performance project designed to provide live performance opportunities to young people, facilitate partnership working across the Group and help schools to deliver on the Government’s National Plan for Music Education. The project follows on from Green Love in 2021, Carmen in 2019 and Wassail!  in 2017. 

Students from over 50 United Learning schools joined together to perform in two live gala concerts as part of their involvement in MUSICfest. Students were challenged to compose or arrange a musical piece, inspired by the theme of “musical creativity”, and perform it in front of a live audience of their peers, teachers, family members and other guests. 

Sir Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning, said: “I was very proud to see our children and young people come together to perform at MUSICFest. These were our first in-person music events for over four years, following a pause during the pandemic, and celebrated the creativity, determination and ambition of our staff and students in music over this period of time. It was an important first step where we reaffirmed our commitment to music as part of delivering an education with character – in all our schools.” 

Throughout the Summer Term, participating primary and secondary schools worked hard to prepare for their performance. Many worked in partnership with schools in their local area or ‘cluster’, sharing their expertise in different genres of music including jazz, pop and carnival. Schools also benefited from centrally-provided music lessons and online workshops.  

The event was held across two Gala Concerts in different locations, to enable participation for as many schools and pupils as possible. In the south, schools joined together at Fairfield Halls in Croydon for their final performance, whilst in the north they performed at Albert Halls Bolton. Both events were compèred by BBC TV and radio presenter YolanDa Brown OBE.  

During final on-the-day rehearsals at each location, primary pupils also benefited from a body percussion workshop, devised and led by Ollie Tunmer from Beat Goes On. Secondary students likewise participated in a Careers Fair where they met with representatives from the Royal Corps of Army Music, The Ivors Academy and Ambassador Theatre Group.   

Speaking about taking part in the concert, Jude, a Year 10 student at Central Academy, said: “The concert was a really good opportunity to get experience on a large-scale stage with lighting and special effects!” 

Joe, a Year 8 student at Seahaven Academy, said: “It was a really good experience playing in front of that many people and at such a big venue. I particularly enjoyed the rehearsals and tech run.” 

Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts, said: “I am thrilled that this year’s MUSICfest was such a great success. For weeks, our students, supported by dedicated teams of staff, have worked incredibly hard to compose, rehearse and perfect their pieces to perform live in front of an audience. All schools delivered wonderful performances and I was so impressed by their musical talents, originality, and confidence on stage.” 

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