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B:Music, the Birmingham-based music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall, has for many years provided opportunities where everybody is invited to make music with the organisation. It offers a range of performance opportunities, workshops, and creative projects throughout the year for everyone from amateur enthusiasts through to established touring artists.

On Friday 31 May, 12 young musicians who are members of B:Music’s B:and Together ensembles were given an unforgettable opportunity to learn more about music-making and performance when they were taken to London to visit Abbey Road Studios and the Royal Albert Hall. The young people all take part in fortnightly Saturday workshops at Symphony Hall, where they learn Gospel and Jazz music from the best industry professionals in Birmingham, in what is a great opportunity for them to make music and meet new friends.

Some of the young musicians- who sing and play saxophone, clarinet, drums, flute, trumpet, and guitar were in the middle of GCSE and A-Level examinations, so the trip offered some much-needed respite and inspiration.

On the day, the group of young musicians and B:Music staff arrived at Abbey Road Studios for an early morning tour, which took place before the recording sessions began for the day. The group weren’t allowed to know which artists or secret projects were being worked on that day. The tour included the iconic Studios One and Two, which remain largely unchanged since the days of legendary recordings by The Beatles and have produced many of the world’s most famous film soundtracks including The Lord of The Rings trilogy, all eight of the Harry Potter films, and a number of Marvel films including Black Pantherand Avengers: Endgame. Whilst looking round the building, the group was shown items of old recording equipment that was hugely pioneering in its day and is all kept in working order so that artists can still use it if they choose to. Significant instruments were pointed out to them, like pianos that had been used for recordings such as Lady Madonna, Hey Jude and the famous Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter film series.

'We have been thrilled to work with the brilliant teams at Abbey Road Studios and the Royal Albert Hall to offer this incredible opportunity to members of our B:and Together ensembles. Places for the trip were limited so individuals were selected via a random prize draw which was open to all B:and Together participants from the Spring term. Several of the group had never been to London before and had never used the Tube, so it was wonderful to be able to give them these experiences as part of our brilliant partnership with Abbey Road Studios.

Myself and the rest of the B:Music team are so very grateful to everybody who was involved with giving our young ensemble participants this incredible opportunity which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Thank you to Avanti for a great journey and for supporting our trip, and thank you to the teams at both Abbey Road Studios and the Royal Albert Hall for their generosity, time and support with everything they did for our young musicians. We are always seeking ways to offer extra opportunities to our participants, and we’re very grateful to all our partners and supporters for helping us to do this.'

Rachel Cranny, Head of Development and Impact at B:Music

After signing the iconic wall outside Abbey Road Studios and capturing a photograph on the famous zebra crossing, the group travelled to the Royal Albert Hall for a backstage tour of the venue. The team at the Royal Albert Hall showed the participants around all areas of the building including the Royal Box. The group asked lots of questions and were given some fascinating insights into the history of the 5,200-seat concert hall and the variety of events that the hall plays host to. The young musicians learned that as live events as diverse as sumo wrestling, ballet, the Remembrance Day concert, and Cirque du Soleil, as well as musical A-listers like Eric Clapton, Coldplay, Raye, and Adele have all played on the world-famous stage.

'This trip was not only educational, allowing us to learn about the world of professional music and recording, but also incredibly enjoyable. I learned about the amazing bands and groups who have recorded at Abbey Road Studios, and how they have recorded the music for some of the most iconic films in history there. As I've always been interested in the music that film composers like John Williams can create, seeing the room where the magic is made was amazing! The Royal Albert Hall was also incredible. I especially loved learning about the history of the Hall and how it became the well-established, world-famous venue it is today.

I am eternally grateful to everyone at B:Music for providing this wonderful opportunity. I have only been involved with B:Music for a year, but the opportunities I have been able to experience through ensemble playing, performance, and exploring jazz music have been absolutely unforgettable.'

Marianne de Wildt, B:and Together member

The trip came about as part of the month long partnership between B:Music and Abbey Road Music Photography Awards which saw an exhibition of previous award winners at B:Eats Symphony Hall, alongside a season of music with an Abbey Road Studio theme.

Members of the Abbey Road Music Young Photographers Group also joined Birmingham Music Photographers for a Masterclass at Symphony Hall to learn tricks of the trade - which they then got to put into action at Free Jazz Friday: B:and Together Takeover, where the young people who visited Abbey Road and Albert Hall demonstrated their talents in a passionate performance.

Photographer Kate Green with Photographer Johnathan Williams (Left) Sharing skills at the Symphony Hall Masterclass

Josh Bailey, young Birmingham Photographer & B:and Together member attended the masterclass and took some great images at the Takeover!

Both B:Music and Abbey Road Music Photography Awards have a mission to nurture the next generation of artists, looking at ways to provide opportunities to develop their skills through masterclasses, skill sessions and performances, seeking out funding to keep opportunities accessible.

This ethos has been key to the successful partnership running throughout May and June 2024 with both teams asking 'how can we incorporate talent development' at every stage of what started as an exhibition plan.

The young photographers were also given the opportunity to photograph The Zombies live on the Town Hall stage, thank you to the band and their team for welcoming the students and putting on a great show!

We look forward to seeing some wonderful Brummie entries in this years Abbey Road Music Photography Awards!

The Zombies performing at Town Hall. Taken by Ibi Keita

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