RAH Diary, 14 March 2018 – Watch the world come alight!

Take those with a passion and a belief in art and music, offer them support and training, give them a platform – and watch the world come alight! 


The concerts we stage at the Royal Albert Hall for AC Academy projects serve a simple purpose: to bring together the different elements of our outreach work across the UK, from choirs created and teachers trained as choir leaders to the specialist projects we do with schools whose children have multiple and profound learning difficulties. Put all of them together, alongside a band made up of the best players from London’s West End, our finest professional singers and world class artists and celebrities, and you have the recipe for an extraordinary event. One which will cement in the minds of all involved the massive impact a simple thing like singing can have on the lives of so many.


By the end of this year, we will be two thirds of the way through our target of creating 300 choirs and training 300 choir leaders by 2020, at which point the programme will be in its 12th year. It is so exciting to see choirs that we have created right at the start of the programme and that are still going perform at these major events, 3 generations of pupils later, using the fundamental core skills at the heart of our Choir Creation scheme.


One of the key challenges each time we do a concert like this is the choice of music. The core of our Choir Creation repertoire is used primarily to instil the key techniques and habits into choirs, whilst also developing the group’s confidence in singing more advanced pieces. For this reason, certain pieces will always make a welcome return, as primarily they are great fun! It is however important to me that young people grow up immersed in all genres of music, we want to give them the chance to experience great music for simply what it is, great music! For this reason we cover pretty much all the bases, from Baroque to folk, from opera to world music and pop. What has especially struck me this time is that the music the children are enjoying most is Baroque…


At this stage, almost all of the workshops are complete and the leaders around the UK are just putting the final touches to the preparations of the groups they have been working with. I am wading my way through hundreds of pages of scores to ensure I have everything I need in my head. My brilliant Head of Education, Gaynor takes care of all the arrangements along with the rest of the staff, so luckily I just have to worry about the music on the day and saying the right thing!


Finally, through the work we do across the UK, it is always so uplifting when we witness such an extraordinary amount of talent, so often born from the most difficult backgrounds. We hear many brilliant young teenagers with real musical talents and who clearly work incredibly hard, but from time to time, we come across someone totally unique. On 26 March Ella, a 15 year old from Coventry, will make her debut at the Royal Albert Hall in front of 5000 people. She is a very gifted young singer and truly deserves this opportunity. With Coventry City of Culture 2021 coming up, people like Ella make it clear why the city deserves such a colossal accolade as this. Put very simply, take those with a passion and a belief in art and music, offer them support and training, give them a platform – and watch the world come alight!

Christopher Monks