Banbury pupils take to the stage to sing traditional African songs

Pupils from Hanwell Fields Community School in Banbury performed at London's Lyceum Theatre yesterday (Wednesday). NNL-160128-124406001
Pupils from Hanwell Fields Community School in Banbury performed at London's Lyceum Theatre yesterday (Wednesday). NNL-160128-124406001

Students from Hanwell Fields Community School in Banbury took to the stage yesterday (Wednesday) for a sold-out performance at London’s prestigious Lyceum Theatre.

Conducted by popular composer Alexander L’Estrange, students and staff joined a host of schools from all across the country to perform songs from Zimbe!, an imaginative fusion of traditional African song and jazz seeking to bring communities together.

Those involved were all part of United Learning - a group of state and independent schools located across the country.

Alison Dodd, leader of the school choir, said: ‘It was a real privilege for us to be involved in this ambitious project at such a prestigious venue.

“It is a definite strength of United Learning that they make opportunities to bring schools together across the trust to share and celebrate together.

“For us as a school, it was fun to learn and prepare the music beforehand, but the real excitement was travelling to London and hearing it all come together as one bigger piece on stage for the first time.”

Given the geographic spread of the schools, from Portsmouth to Carlisle, students from Hanwell Fields Community School had been rehearsing their parts alone for months, with very few opportunities to practise as one ensemble choir before the final show-stopping performance at the central London venue.

Hanwell Community School pupil Felix Morris, in Year Three, said: “We got to go through the stage door and perform in the stalls. We performed with lot of other schools and I though it was exciting.”

Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts for United Learning, added: “I am immensely proud of all the students and staff that have performed in and helped organise such a spectacular event.

“I am particularly pleased with the feedback from students and staff who have said how much they enjoyed the opportunity to get together with other schools to perform Zimbe!

“Events like this one show off the uniqueness of a group like United Learning as a true partnership between state and independent schools.’