The return of the Tunbridge Wells Primary School Singing Festival at the Assembly Hall Theatre on June 20-21 was the 15th held in the town but the first in three years due to the pandemic.
Organisers hailed the return of the event as a ‘huge success’ with nearly 600 children from 17 local primary schools aged from eight to eleven taking part in two concerts on two consecutive nights, singing to around 1,600 parents and friends. The singers had been learning the songs back at their own schools since January, but they came together for the festival under the leadership of Elisa Harrod, Director of Music at Rose Hill School.
On each night, the children learnt six songs to be sung all together and many schools also offered their own choice song as well. The repertoire reflected the theme of ‘Songs Through the Ages’ and encompassed offerings from the stately anthem ‘Jerusalem’ right through to the barnstorming ‘Come Alive’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’, via Abba and World War One marching songs. The pupils were accompanied by Alexander Metcalfe on piano and local student Tom Fitzpatrick on drums.
On Monday, June 20 the primary aged children were joined by the Year 7 choir from Bennett Memorial School, taught by Head of Music Lisa Davies, who supported the younger pupils with solos and their own choice songs as well. Bennett pupil Imogen Strand performed a beautiful flute solo during ‘Adiemus’ by Karl Jenkins.
On Tuesday June 21 the extra voices were supplied by The Skinners’ School Year 9 choir, conducted by Head of Music, Simon Hendry. Mr Hendry and his colleague Will Roberts played a harmonious viola and cello duet on Tuesday night again during ‘Adiemus’. Also on Tuesday the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Godfrey Bland attended the concert and made a speech afterwards thanking the children and their teachers for the joyful performance. A number of workshops were also held during the festival.
Altogether 939 local primary school children participated in either the workshop or one of the concerts and many more came along to see their brother or sister on stage at one of the performances. The singing festival was supported and sponsored by The Southborough and Pembury Satellite Rotary Club of Tunbridge Wells, The Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent Music and The Arts Council England.
The event was organised by Yvonne Smith, who is a local music teacher and Chair of the Tunbridge Wells Network of Primary School Music Teachers. Former local Head Teacher Peter Cornish, who has been involved with the festival since its inception 30 years ago was also a co-organiser for this event.