Were you one of the 2000 Camden school kids at the Royal Albert Hall last night?


As well as our congratulations, we’ve got a few questions for you…



The grand setting of the Royal Albert Hall: Camden Music Festival 2016. Photo: TK
The grand setting of the Royal Albert Hall: Camden Music Festival 2016 Photo: TK
Last night – as has happened every two years since the early 90s, well before the assembled performers were even born – 2000 pupils from the London Borough of Camden’s schools had the chance to play music and sing together at the Royal Albert Hall.

Were you one of them? What did it feel like? From where I was sitting it certainly sounded like you were all fairly excited to be playing a part in things.

The parents and other adults in those grand boxes admiring you from up high were saying that you’d remember this night for the rest of your lives. Having actually been the ones in the thick of it, Chattanooga-Choo-Choo-ing along en masse, would you agree?

Sure, it’s a pretty good brag to be able to say you’ve performed at the Royal Albert Hall, (so feel free to impress people with that for years to come), but will you also boast about some of the other amazing things from the night, like the feeling that comes from teamwork on such a large scale, or the stunning power of your own voice when joined by 1999 others?

I hope so, as that was just as impressive as the surrounding grand Victorian concert hall.

And do you know how brilliant it sounded when you all rubbed your hands together to mimic rainwater, then jumped for a roll of thunder? I bet you were struck by the ability of your own bodies to transform into something else so convincingly. I was.

This ambitious project brings music to almost every school pupil in the borough. Wow.

The Richard Cobden School’s very 2016 composition, Unexpected Item In Bagging Area, sounded to me like Kraftwerk meets the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (at Sainsbury’s checkout), but I bet your cultural references for this song of the zeitgeist are different?

If, as the show’s host, newscaster and local hero Jon Snow said, you find yourself telling your grandchildren about this night 70 years from now, I wonder how old fashioned and quaintly ridiculous today’s era of unexpected supermarket bagging items will seem.

But let’s hope that there is still a Camden Music Festival taking place every other year at the Royal Albert Hall then, so that the next-next-next generation (yes, your grandchildren) can enjoy blowing an almighty public parp on a tuba too.

We’re sure to have an even greater understanding by then of all the neurological benefits of learning music at a young age, but I bet the bit you’ll still remember, and go on about the most, was just how fun it all was, right?

So why wait until your grandchildren crop up to start banging the drum? I hope you’ll tell your non-Camden friends about the night this week – you might just end up inspiring them to a life-changing pursuit of music.

Photos: Camden Music Trust

And if nearly 4,000-and-counting local adults can mobilise and sign a petition to save the plates of pasta and chips at the Parliament Hill Café this week, they can certainly be prompted to help ensure the work of the Camden Music Trust continues long into the future.

So point them in the direction of this link to donate.

Finally, now all the questions are out of the way, congratulations again to everyone involved, from the primary students through to the trustees.

Camden has something that rightfully deserves a royal fanfare here, one that was delivered with suitable volume, enthusiasm and gusto again last night.


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