United Learning in Focus: Students from schools across the country perform at London’s Lyceum Theatre

Drama

Earlier this year, students from United Learning schools across the country took to the stage  for a sold-out performance at London’s prestigious Lyceum Theatre. Conducted by popular composer Alexander L’Estrange, over 1,000 students and their teachers from across the country performed songs from Zimbe!

Zimbe! is an imaginative fusion of traditional African song and jazz which as a choral piece seeks to bring communities together. Given the geographic spread of the schools, the students had all been rehearsing their parts within their schools for months and had very few opportunities to come together as one choir before the final show-stopping performance in central London in January this year.

There were special performances from Kettering Buccleuch Academy’s African djembe drummers as well as dancers from Lambeth Academy and the Glenmoor and Winton Academies in Bournemouth. The Lincoln Minster School Choir, many of whose members are part of Lincoln Cathedral Choir, also performed at the event.

One particularly memorable moment from the night was a poignant solo from Olivia Hewitt-Jones, a student at Hull Collegiate School, singing traditional South African funeral song Aleluya/Thuma mina. She was accompanied by Caterham School Chamber Choir who performed from the private boxes at the theatre.

Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts at United Learning, said:

‘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.’

Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning, added:

‘One of the advantages of being a national group of schools is that we can bring our most talented pupils together from all over the country to participate in events like this. An opportunity to sing in a magnificent theatre like the Lyceum is an ambition that many have but few have the chance to realise. So it was wonderful to see our singers enjoy the experience and come together to perform.'