Group Leader: Timothy Jones accompanied by Lola Moreno.

 

Thirty students from Year 7 to Year 12 spent one week in London in February 2006 as a continuation of the previous visits to New York in 2004 and Washington and New York in 2005. Two thirds of the group had taken part in one or both of the previous visits.

 

The school has enjoyed a partnership with the Connect Project of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama since 2003. The present visit was planned to coincide with a public performance at the Guildhall where our students shared the stage with local school pupils and Guildhall students who had been working together on an improvised piece of music. We spent a day preparing the performance with four Guildhall tutors and we were joined by a group of asylum seekers from Angola who were part of an Anchor Project activity group.

 

I spent some time with one of the postgraduate Music in the Community students discussing the possibility of her being an “artist in residence” at the British Council School in September. There are financial and academic considerations to be worked out.

 

Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets is a multicultural community. We spent a day at the school, and after being given a tour of the building by host pupils our pupils took part in classes on the Indian “tabla” drums and the Caribbean steel pans. This was a new experience and especially valuable to the Music IGSCE students whose syllabus includes the study of these instruments.

 

We were invited by the Headteacher to share lunch with host pupils and then performed a concert of Spanish Dance and Music for 250 pupils, including Morpeth School students and children from five local primary schools.

 

The third concert of our tour was a lunch time event for the Staff Association at the London University Institute of Education. The audience of approximately 100 was very attentive and appreciative. The Director very kindly provided Spanish wine for the audience and a hot lunch for our group, and we were welcomed by the Deputy Director.

I have had a kind note from the organiser thanking us: now her colleagues are thanking her for arranging this first ever student concert and asking her when the next concert will be.

 

Cultural visits during the week included the British Museum, the London Eye, a Thames river cruise, The Lion King, a walk to Buckingham Palace, and an optional concert at the Royal Academy of Music. A highlight was a night time show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, listening to the Echoes of Ellington Big Band.

 

Thanks to an invitation from Lord Kinnock our students were given a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. As the members were on holiday we had the privilege of walking through both houses. The guides were both helpful and kindly complimented our students on their knowledge of English history.

 

This visit was markedly different from our previous experiences in that our students were able to meet and get to know contemporaries a wider cultural mix. For a quarter of the group it was their first visit to Britain. Their reaction to London was very positive, and some students are considering returning to the United Kingdom to study.

 

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