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CONVO lights up the Royal Albert Hall!

5 months ago

James Welburn

ABRSM Regional Development Executive

On 7 March 2019, nearly 1,000 young musicians took to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall to perform the world premiere of CONVO. CONVO is an ambitious new work by composer Charlotte Harding, commissioned by the Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH) in partnership with the Royal Albert Hall and Royal College of Music.

The performance marked the culmination of a two-year project to embed best musical practice as an essential part of school life. More than 60 schools across the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster participated.

The composer, Royal College of Music graduate Charlotte Harding, led a series of workshops in schools to gather pupils' input into the large-scale new composition, which explores the evolution of music and communication through the ages, from past to present to future, in three movements.

The performance itself was a spectacular display of music and visual colour. The massed choir, with bright CONVO t-shirts, sang their hearts out and there were confident solo performances from a number of singers across the auditorium. The 120-piece instrumental ensemble, comprising the Tri-borough Folk Ensemble, Youth Orchestra and supporting adult musicians, were magnificent throughout.

A particular highlight was the performance of a live soundtrack over the 1905 Georges Méliès silent film A Crazy Composer, led skilfully by conductor Ben Palmer. CONVO also fused acoustic and electronic music, with live music coding running alongside traditional orchestral instruments to create a unique sound.

Music education hubs across England provide children and young people with access to quality music education opportunities. Stuart Whatmore, Head of TBMH, highlights the importance of partnership working to ensuring music progression:

“The entire CONVO project is only possible due to the incredible hard work and support of many different organisations and people. This is a project that is based on embedded partnerships with clarity of communication and purpose. It is vital that local authorities partner with organisations such as the Royal Albert Hall and Royal College of Music to enhance children’s music education. As well as improving the musical life for local children, we also support teachers in the delivery of music tuition to provide them with professional development and seek to strengthen the Hub’s ensembles so that high-quality performance opportunities and progression routes are available to all.”

Find out more about CONVO.
Photos: Sheila Burnett


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