The Tri-borough Music Hub facilitates a musical education for the pupils who live in the Borough of Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham. It collaborates with over 50 schools working with more than 500 pupils, including those from Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools. They provide instruments, funding and resources to the students and support those who provide them with their musical education.
Since their last show at the Royal Albert Hall, the Tri-borough Music Hub have had much to celebrate. In commemoration of the past four years, headed by Stuart Whatmore, it gave a spectacular performance, titled CONVO at the landmark London Royal Albert Hall on 7th March. Composed by Charlotte Harding, the show was performed by young musical students of the Tri-borough music hub.
The musicians, no older than 18, showed us that they were all highly committed instrumentalists. The truly professional and passionate Youth Orchestra and Folk Ensemble stole the gaze, ears and full attention of the entire audience. Whilst the Youth Orchestra read the music, the Folk Ensemble performed the music by ear; the result was a kaleidoscopic vision of performance and uplifting sounds. There was a vast variety of instruments including the accordion, harp, percussion, violins and drums. The voices of the children of the supporting choirs filled the Royal Albert Hall with harmonious singing and awe-inspiring solos. Proud parents, teachers, friends and siblings who had filled the seats in the auditorium were enthralled; there was no question about the gravity and quality of this extraordinary event. The organisation by Tri-borough Music Hub and its partners must be commended for their role in bringing this amount of talented and dedicated young musicians and singers to such a big arena.
This exceptional performance was written by 29-year-old composer Charlotte Harding. Charlotte is a saxophonist; receiving the Cobbett and Hurleston Prize for Composition as well as the prestigious Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Rosebowl, Award presented by HRH Prince Charles for her compositions which were created whilst studying at the Royal College of Music. She has been commissioned by the British Paraorchestra, Balletboyz and has had her compositions played in venues such as Sadler’s Wells and Cadogan Hall as well as composing for television.
CONVO was the biggest project she has ever taken on and Charlotte spent a year running workshops and groups with the children to help her write a piece that could attain the exceptional level portrayed by their performance that night. During this process, she said she ‘had been continually amazed and inspired by their creativity, incredible musicianship and enthusiasm for music.’ The theme of the show was communication as Charlotte wanted it to ‘reflect the revolution in communications, and how music as a communication tool has equally evolved over time.’
Stuart and his team’s initial reaction to the proposal Charlotte presented was ‘insane and very ambitious. However they did a lot of thinking and decided they wanted to push the boundaries whilst wanting to ensure what would be achievable.’ Charlotte wrote everything from the simple lyrics and sounds that came from the choir, to the music for every single instrumentalist that took part in the event.
This show was the first production the Tri-borough Music Hub performed, with an orchestra selected from their own pupils. The growth and development of the organisation is exemplified by the CONVO performance. It shows their sheer commitment and understanding in respect of what pupils could take away from this experience. Whilst it provided an opportunity for their pupils to perform somewhere as grand as the Royal Albert Hall, it also could become an inspiration for any child in the audience, or current performer to expand their talents and take up an instrument or join a choir.
The Tri Borough Music Hub also participated to support those who had been involved in Grenfell and worked closely with some of the children, families and schools that were affected by the tragedy. They supported community projects with music and workshops- whilst providing pastoral care and support. As a body that seeks to ensure every child has access to an affordable musical education and instruments, they played a vital role in offering support in the aftermath of the disaster.
Alongside this, the Tri-borough Music Hub, recently worked on a two-year project, in collaboration with their charity Youth Music, which focused on improving music provisions from birth to five years. Whilst the research showed that musical education has enhanced the lives of all the children they work with, some from difficult backgrounds, the work done at the Tri-borough music hub is focused around inclusivity, diversity and providing opportunities to those who may not otherwise have them.
A local authority service, they offer weekly programmes to over 600 pupils which include the choirs, orchestras and ensembles that were exhibited at the show at the Royal Albert Hall. Every year they run over 30 live performances and work to ensure every pupil in the area has access to a musical education, no matter their background, family income or start in life. In 2018, 45% of the funding the organisation got from the government and 55% they got from parents, went towards subsidising music classes for children receiving free school meals. Their role is to oversee musical education and to ensure their various partner institutions have the resources they need to support their pupils and they aim to ensure no child is left behind.
The BBC recently revealed that music education in state schools has decreased by 21% in the last five years, whilst only a quarter of schools in deprived areas offer any music lessons at all. it is therefore important to truly acknowledge those who are fighting to bring musical education to the lives of this country’s young people.
The work the children, the organisation and their partners do and have done recently all came together in one big event, that should be celebrated by all involved. Whilst the children need to pat themselves on the back and let their pride be shown, Stuart Whatmore and theTri-borough Music Hub deserve praise for the great work they do.
Tri-borough Music Hub website: www.triboroughmusichub.org
Phone number: 020 3745 6024
Charlotte Harding website: www.charlottehardingmusic.com
Youth Music: www.youthmusic.org.uk
Photo Credit ; Sheila Burnett