All the latest news and events from Accent Music Education Hub
Musical Advent Calendar 2021
Following on from the success of our 18 day 'Christmas Countdown 2020’ we are pleased to announce ‘Countdown 2021’ which this year, will run from 1st December right through to Christmas day!
Featuring our district ensembles: Splinters Street Band, Halton Schools Windband, Rising Stars and Accent Community Ensemble along with several of our gospel school choirs and soloists from across Halton and Warrington, it is our way of spreading festive cheer!
Back to Live Music!
Splinters Street Band members were delighted to have their first 'live' performance in nearly 18 months at the 'Celebrate Halton' music festival on Sunday 3 September, followed a week later by an appearance at the ‘Hatton Show’ in Daresbury.
In spite of two lockdowns the band has managed to stay connected online with weekly rehearsals and various projects - and as fantastic as that has been, it’s very uplifting to see the group entertaining a crowd once again!
Paul McGhee, Ensembles Co-ordinator for Accent MEH and co-leader of Splinters said, “The players, as always, were a credit to themselves and their parents. Not only did they play to a very high standard, they also amazed everyone with their professionalism and dedication. The group will be seen again at further 'Celebrate Halton' events taking place in Widnes in late October and December – it’s great to be back!”
Photo courtesy of Warren Millar Photography, Widnes.
‘Rivers of The World’ Art Exhibition comes to Pyramid Arts Centre, Warrington!
Led by Accent Music Education Hub in partnership with the Thames Festival Trust and Culture Warrington, the ‘Rivers of the World’ art and geography project, has involved schools from across Warrington and Halton. The 2-year project culminated in 2 exhibitions: the first along the Thames riverside walkways in 2019 and the second, at Pyramid Arts Centre from 14 June – 31 July 2021, both displaying art work inspired by river studies of Ethiopia, and Ethiopian school partnerships.
The exhibition of work produced in Year2 of the project was inevitably delayed due to the pandemic, but we are delighted that it can be shared at a time when the Pyramid Arts Centre is opening its doors to the public once again.
Janice Pounds, Music Education Commissioner for Accent Music Education Hub said, “This was a really exciting opportunity, and the Thames Festival Trust were keen to extend the project to include primary schools this year. They chose our region in part, due to the excellent work already achieved by the Primary Arts Networks that run in both Warrington and Halton and the work of the Arts Steering Group. We are thrilled that this has been recognised on a national level and has given our pupils the opportunity to be involved in such a prestigious international event.”
For more details about past projects, please visit the Thames Festival Trust
Year 6 Leaver’s Celebration at Liverpool Cathedral – thanks to technology!
In previous years, the Year 6 Leaver’s at Woolston CE and Winwick Primary Schools, both from Warrington, would have attended one of a number of services held at Liverpool Cathedral for the children leaving one of the 109 Church of England primary schools in the diocese.
Each service usually sees the cathedral packed to capacity with close to 1200 people but for obvious reasons, this year that is not possible. Instead, children from both schools, along with others from St Cleopas, Liverpool; Holy Trinity, Southport and Bryn St Peter’s, Wigan will be recorded singing or leading prayers and reflections for a service of thanksgiving to God for their time in primary school.
The recordings are to be shared with all schools in the diocese and will include a special blessing from the Bishop of Warrington, the Right Reverend Beverly Mason. Whilst they cannot meet physically this year, through technology, they will be able to come together as part of a bigger family on Monday 5th July at 1.30pm.
The Year 4 children from Woolston CE, who are part of the Accent Gospel Project this year, went along to Liverpool Cathedral on Monday 10th May where, under the direction of Mel Birkett, Gospel Lead Tutor, they recorded three of the songs they have been working on: Lean on Me, Celebration and The Blessing.
Covid 19 Update
Whole Class Instrumental and Vocal Lessons
Following rigorous safe-guarding guidelines, all of our Whole class Music and Arts projects are being delivered face to face in schools once again. Feedback from both the tutors and schools is extremely positive and it continues to be heart-warming to hear of the response from pupils and staff at having the opportunity to enjoy practical Music and the Performing Arts activities once again!
The response to our offer for 2021–2022 from schools was tremendous and we are delighted to have more projects than ever booked for this academic year, including our new ‘wellbeing’ projects in Dance and Drama.
For further details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Live rehearsals are now running for all of our district instrumental groups. For further details, please contact our Ensembles co-ordinator: email@example.com
We will continue to monitor the situation carefully following guidelines from Warrington and Halton Borough Councils, Public Health England and the Department for Education.
MECLA Materials Launched Across the UK
The MECLA Project (Music Exchange and Cultural Learning Alliance) led by Accent MEH, enabled trilateral partnership between England, the Czech Republic and Denmark and the dissemination of key skills involving the delivery of Music education to children and young people from the age of 7 - 11 years between 2017 and 2020. This project, funded through the British Council and ended in June 2020. We are delighted that all training materials will be launched nationally in January 2021!
There was a need for Accent MEH to address progression and legacy programmes and a need for the Czech Republic and Danish partners to build links with local primary schools, through the establishment of a tuition programme modelled on the English National Curriculum and English Whole Class Vocal and Instrumental Tuition Strategy. Prior to the bid application in 2016, it was identified that each partner has a great deal to learn from the practices of the other, and that the development of these practices would have the impact to be realised locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
The project involved a study into the way children learned Music Theory and Musicianship and transposed this into a new Music IT Programme commissioned through Charanga (a nationally recognised English company in the field of digital Music education) for use in Warrington, Halton , Nachod and Copenhagen. Czech and Danish colleagues studied the fundamental pedagogy linked to the successful delivery of Music tuition to whole classes of children, and linked with regional primary schools in order to devise a teaching programme, which tracked musically gifted and talented children and generally raised standards in the delivery of Music education.
Making Music Visual- A masterclass in combining the Creative Arts
The culmination of Accent’s Making Music Visual project, in partnership with the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Dance Teacher, Alicia Graham and the MMU was realised at Parr Hall, Warrington on 16 July 2019. Various incarnations of this project had seen the idea gathering pace for a full year through Accent’s partnership work with other local arts organisations. But it wasn’t until the bid for a National Lottery Fund was successful that the project really crystallised.
The idea of the Making Musical Visual is just that- showcasing pupils’ responses to Music through other art forms including Dance, Drama, Poetry and Visual Art. This particular project used Digital Art, Dance and Composition in response to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Six schools across Warrington and Halton took part in the project.
Newchurch Primary, Penketh South Primary and Weston Primary focussed on Digital Art: tutors from Manchester Metropolitan University delivered several sessions in each school and Tom Elliot from the Northern Chamber Orchestra also went along to inspire their creations.
Culcheth High School and Penketh High School took a compositional route. The NCO went to both schools to help pupils understand composition and how improvisation alongside an existing work can be the catalyst for new ideas. Looking in depth at Appalachian Spring as a body of work, students created themes and motifs which were stitched together by specially commissioned composer, Jamie Manson into a work in 7 movements entitled ‘Dances from the Wild Woods’.
Finally, 35 dance students from the Heath choreographed the entirety of Copland’s original work using Martha Graham dance techniques, assisted by Alicia Graham of Dance Steps. Rehearsing over the academic year, they brought together a polished performance.
The evening saw the three art forms combined to produce a spectacular and moving performance. NCO performed Appalachian Spring with The Heath Dancers on stage performing their choreography with digital artwork projected onto the stage. Following on from this, the NCO performed the composed piece whilst Dancers utilised some of the motifs from their choreography to perform a structured improvisation to ‘Dances from the Wild Woods’.
Janice Pounds said “This project gave 120 students an opportunity to work with professional musicians and artists. More importantly, the opportunity to participate in a project which gave individuals the chance to express themselves creatively was of huge benefit and value. This project resulted in 70 Arts Awards being achieved, and Accent MEH really hopes to offer this type of work in the future.”
Stadium Comes Alive to Sounds of the 80’s
It’s no surprise that pupils and teachers alike were excited to take part in Accent’s Children of the Hub Sing Stadium Event: ‘Totally 80’s’ at the Halton Stadium on 10 July 2019. It was neon headbands, glow sticks and even inflatable guitars at the ready for the schools who came along to perform on the evening.
Accompanied by a live band, the ‘choir’ of almost 1000 young voices sang their hearts out to 2-part arrangements of classics from the 80’s. Having learned their individual parts back in the classrooms, the schools came together for the first time on the day itself. Our audience of over 2,500 joined in enthusiastically, singing along to hits including Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe and Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’. Hats off to everyone in our 4-piece band and special mention to Mr Jimmy B for making fiendishly difficult guitar solos seem effortless!
As ever, children and audience alike enjoyed performances from the secondary schools ‘Footloose’ from The Heath Dancers wowed everyone with its amazing choreography, which included cartwheels and backflips. Great Sankey High School singers Owen and Holly performed ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’, and along with soloist Brogan from Ssts Peter and Paul Catholic College school and Kaity from The Heath School who sang ‘Black Velvet’ and ‘The Greatest Love of All’ respectively were excellent ambassadors for their schools.
The Ssts Peter and Paul’s Samba Band under the excellent leadership of Dave Phillips also gave two performances and had the audience dancing in their seats!
Organiser Janet Whittingham, Accent’s Deputy Music Education Commissioner and Vocal Strategy Lead hosted the evening and, along with Andrea Price (Priceless Music) conducted the massed choir.
“The Stadium Event is another chance to celebrate the joy of sharing music and singing together. The children have worked incredibly hard in the run up to the performance this evening, tackling some challenging music and part-singing. As ever the teachers have played a major role in the preparations for the event and I am so grateful that we have such committed staff in our schools – and such brilliant children! Thanks too to our audience for their generosity and raising a staggering £1125 for Cystic Fibrosis Trust”.
Special guests included the Mayor of Warrington, Cllr. Wendy Johnson and her consort Mrs Beverley Hallam. The Mayor presented certificates to the participating schools, taking time to speak to the children who came up as their representatives.
Our thanks to AJB Sound and Lighting for working their magic again this year and to Ian, Bruce and the staff at Halton Stadium for their help and advice along the way.
Beechwood Primary School
Brookvale Primary School
Castle View Primary School
Croft Primary School
Ditton Primary School
Fairfield Primary School
Farnworth CE Primary School
Great Sankey High School
Hale C of E Primary School
Lunts Heath Primary School
Murdishaw West Community Primary School
Newchurch Community Primary School
Oakfield Community Primary School
Palace Fields Primary School
Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School
Ssts. Peter and Paul Catholic College
St Bede’s Catholic Primary School
St Clement's Catholic Primary School
St Edward's Catholic Primary School
St Mary's Halton C of E Primary School
St Michael's Catholic Primary School
St Peter’s Catholic Primary School
Statham Community Primary School
The Brow Community Primary School
The Heath School
The Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School
Twiss Green Primary School
Victoria Road Primary School
Windmill Hill Primary School
Bumper Year for Feast of Choirs
Our annual Feast of Choirs Concert is one of the highlights of the Accent Event Calendar- and 2019 was no exception. For the 11th year running, schools who had taken part in the Gospel Project since September 2018 came together to sing at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. This year a record breaking 24 schools attended on one evening, involving just over 500 pupils.
The schools had been learning three-part harmony songs by ear in schools over the course of the academic year, and they joined together for the first time to rehearse all together the afternoon before the concert. Lead Gospel Tutor Mel Birkett arranged and choreographed the songs and then she and Gospel Tutor Alex Hancock taught them in schools to the individual classes. The Gospel songs included choreography to make the performance really vibrant and energetic.
As expected, this was the very first year for a completely sold out concert. The lucky ticket holders were (almost literally) blown away by the amazing sound created by 500 pupils singing together in a massed choir.
In addition to Accent’s Gospel choir, the audience was treated to a performance by the highly commended Norbreck Primary School Choir from Blackpool, and solo performances from pianist and vocalist Amelie from Priestley College and Emma from Penketh High School who had been a pupil at the Cathedral several years prior.
Janice Pounds, Music Education Commissioner said “Year on year the Feast of Choirs continues to entertain and thrill everyone in attendance. The Gospel Programme is hugely popular with schools across Warrington and Halton, with new schools coming on board each year. We were delighted to have the support of both The Mayor of Halton Cllr Margaret Horabin and the Mayor of Warrington Cllr Karen Mundry who were both hugely complimentary about the performance. The tutors really do get the best out of the children and the performance was really excellent- huge congratulations to all the young people who performed on the evening, you really did yourselves and your schools proud.”
Inaugural Ensembles Showcase highlights Wealth of Talent
The very first Accent Ensembles Showcase was held at Parr Hall on Saturday 29 July 2019, giving an opportunity for the various ensembles to join together and perform the repertoire they have been learning over the past year.
The Splinters Ensemble kicked off the proceedings in a more than unusual way- by asking the audience to choose their set using a repertoire list of up-beat popular classics.
The pieces were all arranged in a funked-up style by composer Lucy Pankhurst, and band leader Paul McGhee had evidently been working hard with the group to ensure each performance was tight, coherent and full of energy. Highlights included the pop classics ‘Toxic’ by Brittany Spears and ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran- both of which are viewable on their YouTube channel.
Next up was a first time ensemble The Rising Stars- Halton Rising Stars and Warrington Rising Stars came together to perform for the very first time. Both ensembles are designed for pupils who have just completed their first year of whole class teaching and are continuing to learn. Conductor, Andrea Price, led the group through some really engaging and dynamic pieces including The Pirates of the Carribean and The Hanging Tree, showing just how far pupils can progress in one year!
Finally, Accent Community Ensemble and the Halton Wind Band joined forces for a rousing performance which even had special guest The Mayor of Halton dancing! Conducted by Lyndzi Williams, Karl Stott and Paul McGhee, the band showed their astounding musicianship and dedication through a wonderful repertoire which showed the diversity of their skill.
The Disney Medley was particularly well received by the audience, as well as band favourites ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ and ‘The Incredibles’.
Janice Pounds, Music Education Commissioner said “We are thrilled with the standard of our Ensembles- the dedication and hard work shown week in, week out by both students and tutors is absolutely evident in the quality of performance shown here this evening. Nobody could doubt that. Every time there is an opportunity to perform, the Ensembles come along and play better than the last time. We simply can’t wait to see what they decide to learn next! Huge congratulations to all on a truly outstanding performance.”
For more information about our ensembles, please visit: https://www.accentmusiceducationhub.co.uk/ensembles or follow our twitter feed: https://twitter.com/AccentEnsembles