Students perform on the biggest of London’s stages

A MUSICAL extravaganza saw hundreds of talented youngsters from across Camden raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall last week

Ben McPartland

A MUSICAL extravaganza saw hundreds of talented youngsters from across Camden raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall last week.

Every school around the borough was represented as trumpeters, saxophonists, singers and drummers came together for this year's Camden Music Festival.

The event, organised by the Camden Music Service, gave musicians and singers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of playing on the famous Albert Hall stage.

They were backed up by an 1,800-strong choir of school children singing their hearts out.

Peter West, head of Camden Music Service, said he hoped some of the talented musicians will be given another chance to perform at the venue in the future.

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He said: "From our point of view it was absolutely brilliant. For the first time this year we had some really young children performing so we were really excited about that. We teach instruments to hundreds of primary children and decided to take the risk of putting them on the stage.

"Many of them had only been learning for a term and a half. They could play a few notes and luckily for them they played them at the Albert Hall.

"It made sense for them as they can see where the whole process of playing music ends up. To play at that venue brought it all to life for them.

"Hopefully if they keep on learning their instruments they may get another go but it was an experience, there is no doubt about that."

The all-day event last Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the Camden Music Festival, held every two years.

"I would probably be dead if I did it every year. It's a mammoth operation, trying to get 2,000-odd kids to the Albert Hall," said Mr West.

"And that is apart from all the time it takes to learn and rehearse the music, and most of it you can only rehearse on the day."

The big day out culminated with an evening performance in front of 3,000 proud parents and teachers.

One of them, Robert Sumerling from Laurier Road, Kentish Town, was there to see his 17-year-old daughter Becky play the saxophone.

"It was a very uplifting event," he said. "I have been to lots of concerts at the Albert Hall and this was the best one. It was fantastic.

"All those children performing together in that amazing hall was a momentous event. The organisers deserve congratulating."

The council's music department is holding auditions for children and young people who play instruments throughout March, April, June and July. Anyone who attends will get the chance to join one of the borough's music groups.

For more information call Deborah Rees on 020-7974 8442 or email