Caludon Castle student in starring role at Royal Albert Hall gala

Published Thursday, 12 April 2018

A pupil from Caludon Castle School in Wyken, Coventry gave the performance of her life at London’s spectacular Royal Albert Hall on 26 March.

Ella Alridge

15-year old Ella Aldridge was specially selected to perform the spine-tingling solo of Gary Barlow’s Sing at a gala concert in the presence of HRH The Duke of Kent KG and in front of 2000 singers and 3500 audience members. 

Ella and the Caludon Castle school choir were among over 2000 youngsters from around the country who came together to form a massed choir for the ‘AC Academy Does the Royal Albert Hall’ event.  They were accompanied by professional musicians and joined on stage by special guests, Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka and Dianne and actor Mark Williams, known to millions as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

Christopher Monks, Artistic Director of Armonico Consort which organised the event, said:  “Along with Ella’s self-evident talent, there is a gift for crafting a performance that sounds truly human and totally captivating.  Behind this is hours of practice and preparation, much of which is instinctive to her.  She is so open about how singing brings her joy and helps her in darker times.  Ella is totally unique and truly deserved the opportunity extended to her at the Royal Albert Hall.”

Sharon Vincent, Teacher of Music at Caludon Castle School said: "There are some days in the life of a music teacher that are quite unique, and this was definitely one of them. The day was truly magical! What a wonderful opportunity for all of our students, and the stuff that dreams are made of for Ella"

The gala brought together 52 choirs – including 16 from Coventry - formed through Armonico Consort’s education programme AC Academy, made possible through the generous support of Phillips 66 and its fuel brand JET.  The choirs are formed through its in-school Choir Creation scheme, after school choirs and Special Education Needs (SEN) projects.   Singing is known to have many educational, social and well-being benefits as well as breaking down cultural and social barriers by bringing together young singers, of any ability, from different backgrounds including some of the country’s most deprived areas. 

The concert included choral music and songs as diverse as Handel’s Zadok the Priest to Pharrell’s Happy and extracts from Bizet’s opera Carmen to music from around the world.  An undoubted highlight was The Trip, a piece created by children with moderate and profound learning difficulties as part of AC Academy’s ground-breaking SEN projects which featured backing vocals from the entire choir and some 3500 audience members.

AC Academy reaches 15,000 children a year in partnership with music services nationwide including Coventry Music and through collaborations with venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.  AC Academy’s Choir Creation scheme is now in its tenth year and has an ambitious target to create 300 choirs and train 300 new choir leaders by 2020. 

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