Westbrook Old Hall Primary School Choir and Lymm High Strings Ensemble were both crowned winners at the very first Accent Music Education Hub Schools’ Music Competition held at the Brindley Theatre, Runcorn on Monday 14 March 2016. Two competitions ran on the day with six primary choirs and three secondary ensembles each competing for the titles.
The competition was devised, organised and run by Chris Bastock, Accent Music Education Hub’s Progressions and Ensembles manager. “Accent Music Education Hub is dedicated to providing performance opportunities to all groups,” said Chris, “but we also want to give groups the inspiration and drive to further develop their skills and abilities. Competitions are a great way to ensure that groups progress and perform at the top of their game.”
The Primary Choirs Competition saw choirs from Ravenbank Community Primary, St Margaret’s CE Voluntary Aided Primary, Moore Primary, Westbrook Old Hall Primary, Ditton Primary and Lunts Heath Primary in the running for the title. All schools were able to watch each other rehearse before the competition, which gave them a valuable learning experience within itself.
The judges at the competition were Simone Rebello, Director of Percussion at The Royal Northern College of Music, and Lyn Bastock, Freelance Choral Animateur . Over 200 pupils sang to a packed audience in the afternoon, as well as to the Mayors of both Warrington and Halton who were on hand to award certificates to all the participants and, of course, to the winners. Accent Patron, poet Terry Caffrey, also performed one of his rhythmic poems to the delight of all.
After much deliberation, Westbrook Old Hall Primary Choir were named Accent Music Education Hub Primary Choir of the Year 2016. The school won £250 towards the development of Music in school. The judges said: “Westbrook Old Hall sang a programme that was full of variety and the choir obviously enjoyed performing it. They were engaged and focused on the conductor throughout. We really enjoyed watching your performance!”
As the primary choirs were leaving, secondary school ensembles began to arrive to set up for their competition. Lymm High School brought their Strings Ensemble as well as their Brass Ensemble, and The Heath brought their Taiko Drummers to compete for the title.
Andy Scott, composer and visiting saxophone tutor at The Royal Northern College of Music joined Simone Rebello to adjudicate the proceedings and again the Mayors of both Warrington and Halton attended the competition. All three ensembles gave excellent performance. The Taiko drummers were noted for their effective visual and musical impact at the start of the competition, the Strings Ensemble for their technical ability, and the Brass Ensemble for their energy, tightness and professionally presentation.
The small but perfectly formed audience were also able to watch a performance by The Lookouts from Birchwood High School, winners of the Accent Music Education Hub Battle of The Bands Competition, along with another performance from Accent patron, poet Terry Caffrey.
Before awarding the certificates, the judges spoke to all the groups who came into the auditorium for the announcement. Andy Stott said “This was really, genuinely, extremely difficult to judge as all groups were both musically competent and, in terms of instrumentation, so very diverse. All of them had great qualities. This is real music with real musicians”
Despite this difficulty, the title of Accent Education Hub Secondary Ensemble of the year 2016 was awarded to the Lymm String Ensemble, who were also praised for the creative and sensitive programming of their Musical Director, Mrs Leighton-Jones. The school Music Department wins £250 along with this prestigious title.
Schools wishing to take part in next year’s competition should contact Accent Music Education Hub on 01925 442097 or 01925 442610 to register their interest. Full details will also be sent to schools via School News and Halton E-Circular.