Oakham’s Director of Music, Peter Davis, saw his vision to bring together Rutland’s state schools in song culminate in a standing ovation last week at De Montfort Hall in Leicester.
It all began back in 2012 when Rutland Music Hub was founded. “Before the Music Hub was established, Rutland, due to its small size, had never had a county-wide music service supporting music-making in its state schools,” Peter explains. “The Music Hub, funded by the Arts Council, aims to give every child aged 5-18 the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument, and to perform as part of an ensemble or choir.”
Peter, who has been instrumental in helping to establish and develop the Music Hub over the last seven years, had the vision of a showcase concert that would be a unique, transformative project for the children of Rutland, providing tailored musical opportunities, facilitation from vocal specialists, and ultimately the first exposure to the excitement of massed musical performance in a major regional concert hall. He composed a new piece of music for the children of Rutland to sing during his recent sabbatical, bringing Robert Browning’s famous poem to life in a piece called Pied Piper!
This concert took place last week and saw 420 pupils aged 7 to 18 from each of the 21 state schools in Rutland join together in the county’s first ever collaborative school concert. “The standing ovation was very much deserved following hours of workshops, practices and rehearsals undertaken in their own schools, as well as in our School Chapel,” says Peter.
The concert was well attended and well received by parents, family members and teachers, as well as visiting dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland and Rutland’s High Sheriff – both of whom took to Twitter to pay their compliments to the pupils and to Peter for being the driving force behind the concert. A representative from Arts Council England described the evening as ‘a triumph’, Arts for Rutland thought it was ‘a really inspiring evening’, whilst Rutland Music described it as being ‘a total triumph from beginning to end’. The Schools who took part also praised the concert – outlining how proud they were to be a part of it, how ‘amazing’ the experience was for the children and that it was ‘an amazing night’ that ‘won’t be forgotten’!
Many members of Oakham School were also in attendance, as Oakham has been a lead partner, supporting singing provision from the outset and in offering consistent support and commitment to building community music-making in the county. “It was a privilege and a pleasure to sit with families, teachers and other members of the Rutland community to enjoy the culmination of this outstanding community project,” says Headmaster, Henry Price. “The variety and quality of the singing was magnificent and it was a joy to see over 400 pupils making marvellous music together. I am sure they will remember the evening for many years to come and I hope it inspires them to ‘keep singing’.”
“Music provides the perfect vehicle for community collaboration and cohesion,” concludes Peter. “This really was a landmark moment for the music hub - it was a terrific example of what a local music hub ambitiously serving the needs of its local community can achieve. Its legacy will unquestionably resonate across the county and the community for many years to come.”