In April, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting took place in London, and The Purcell School took part in a week of fantastic musical events in association with The Commonwealth Resounds, Rotary London, The Royal Overseas League and the Royal Society of St. George.

The week began with a day of rehearsals here at School for a spectacular performance to open the Commonwealth Business Forum, which took place the following morning at the QEII Centre in Westminster. The performance, entitled Drumming for Peace, was sponsored by Rotary London, and directed by Kevin Hathway, bringing together drummers from The Purcell School, Ghana, India, and Botswana.

On Tuesday afternoon, our Interim Head, Bernard Trafford, introduced an afternoon of musical lectures, presentations and discussion groups, interspersed with short performances by an outstanding cross-cultural recorder group Parandrus and other Commonwealth musicians, at the Princess Alexandra Hall at Over-Seas House in St James’ in Central London. Events continued into the evening, culminating in a spectacular performance by Royal Overseas League prizewinning ensemble KABANTU.

On Thursday 19 April, a fantastic concert took place at St. George’s, Hanover Square, performed by the Commonwealth Festival Choir and Orchestra conducted by James Ross and Graham Dinnage, and the Purcell School’s pupil-led ensemble, Philomel, conducted by year 13 pupil, Sebastian Kozub. They performed music written by young people about peace, based upon poetry and text from around the Commonwealth, alongside great works by British composers, such as Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia and Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, representing the host country of CHOGM 2018.

The week ended in style on Friday 20 April at St. James’ Piccadilly, with Sound Image Movement – The Commonwealth!, a dazzling concert of music, dance and film from all over the world, composed and directed by young people, featuring brilliant musicians from many different Commonwealth backgrounds. The concert began with a procession into the church by Pipers from Ardvreck School in Crieff, Scotland, followed by a repeat performance of ‘Drumming for Peace’ involving over 50 drummers. There were items by celebrated Botswanan singer Lorraine Lionheart and her ensemble, and Purcell students, Gayatri Nair, the outstanding young Anglo-Indian singer, as seen on ITV’s The Voice, and Billy Watman, Sky Arts Guitar Star Finalist. All this, plus lively music inspired by Cyprus, Nigeria, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and The Purcell School SIM Orchestra, conducted by Alicija Herma.

Over £500 from the two concerts was raised to help support hurricane victims in Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica to rebuild their homes and lives after the devastating Hurricane Irma last year. ​

Photography @ Martin Wess