Royal Albert Hall debut for 200 learning-disabled musicians


ABOUT 200 learning-disabled musicians will realise an 18-year dream and perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

The performance of Music is Magic, will showcase the talents of the group from Southend.

Southend Mencap introduced the project, which provides a music education service for children and adults with learning disabilities.

David Stanley, former Leigh Town councillor, founded the project in Southend and has dreamed of arranging this performance for 18 years.

And he has been proactively campaigning for six years.

The Royal Albert Hall has a capacity of 4,000 people, with 3,000 tickets for the event already sold.

David hopes for a sell-out for the event, which challenges misconceptions and raises awareness about the importance of equal opportunities.

He said: “Performing here will top every achievement our musicians have accomplished. Not only will this help to raise awareness, but it helps give the musicians a sense of purpose. It’s good for their mental wellbeing. I promised them one day I will make it happen for them. That was in 2001!

“As the years went by it changed from being a dream to reality. Not only do we arrange for these performances for them, but it’s also on behalf of the families too. Nothing compares to the battle they have faced.

“The musicians have been practicing for this for a year and a half. It’s been a long process with teaching them thoroughly and writing the music, but they are ready now, they could do it tomorrow!

“They’re really looking forward to it, they’re very passionate and determined. We’re all just so grateful for this opportunity and have had so much support from the community.”

Music is Magic will feature music composed by David himself and will be split into two acts.

Act one will feature well known songs and music from the Music Man Project songbook. Act two will premiere a brand new musical called ‘Music is Magic in Space’, which was created by David.

The musical marks the 50th anniversary since man landed on the moon. David used this concept to express that back then, everyone thought someone walking on the moon was impossible, just as they thought those who were learning- disabled couldn’t be musicians. Times have very much changed.

Lorraine Kelly Studio orchestra will have their debut performance featured at the concert, as a tribute for the late violinist and teacher from Southend. Lorraine sadly passed away last April due to cancer.

There will be 60 musicians from Southend and the surrounding areas in the orchestra performing in her memory. A variety of Southend choirs will also be performing. This includes the Southend Girls Choir, Southend Vox, Cantare Ladies Choir and Great Wakering Community Choir.

The performers will be also supported by singing duo Classical Reflection and actor Peter Egan.

Musicians from the Music Man Project have previously performed for 39,000 runners at the London Marathon, sold out their London Palladium performance in 2017 and have broken the Guinness World Record for the largest ever triangle ensemble. The performance will take place on Monday, April 15 from 6.30pm.

Written by: Poppie Webster