From “Thrift Shop” to Beethoven; ARK pupils raise the roof at the Barbican

Young musicians from across the ARK Schools network joined together to sing and perform in a concert held at the prestigious Barbican Centre in London on 7 July. The ARK Schools Music Gala, now in its sixth year, is an annual event that brings together students from throughout the ARK Schools network in a celebration of music both contemporary and classical.

“We know that music plays an extraordinary part in our pupil’s lives,” said Bryan Welton, Director of Music at ARK. “We believe every child can be a musician and that through music pupils become curious for all the world has to offer.”

More than 750 students participated in the event, and highlights of the evening included adaptations of recent hits by Pharrell Williams, Ryan Lewis and Adele, as well as takes on classical favourites such as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

“I really liked playing the ukulele and singing on stage and I felt proud when the audience cheered,” said seven-year-old Trixie, of ARK Conway Primary Academy. “Singing with ARK Atwood and my friends from ARK Conway made me very happy.”

ARK’s annual gala was established in 2009 as a celebration of the important role that music plays in the charity’s vision. Students within the network are introduced to a vocal-based curriculum in reception and have a range of opportunities to develop their musicianship through instrumental learning and singing as they progress through school.

Dorcas, a 15-year-old vocalist from Burlington Danes Academy, said: “Playing music at school makes me feel like part of the community. It’s a pleasure to represent the academy and perform with other ARK schools.”

Performers of all ages and ability participated in the event, reflecting ARK’s firm belief that everyone has the potential to be a musician. However, the Spark Choir and Fusion Ensemble, who were on stage throughout the night, offer ARK’s most committed singers and instrumentalists the opportunity to receive more intensive training.

“Our pupils and teachers should feel very proud of what they have achieved. The dedication, inclusion and diversity of musicianship displayed on stage captured the spirit of this event perfectly,” said Mr Welton.

Hasti, a year 8 pupil at ARK Putney Academy, said:  “I love how being in a choir can bring a group of people together, how you can harmonise and sing what you feel.  You enjoy what you do and feel proud being on stage.”