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On Wednesday 21 June, around 100 musicians in Norwich aged between 8 – 80 took part in a nationwide celebration of music for Make Music Day UK 2017. Make Music Day is an annual UK wide, free day of music held in public spaces, from squares to libraries, bandstands to school halls and arts centres. It is the UK’s contribution to the international summer solstice music celebration which first started in France in 1982 and now takes place in over 120 countries and 750 cities across the world. Make Music Day UK aims to turn the country into a stage, and offer a full spectrum of performers the opportunity to display their musical skills.

There were three stages across the city; at Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, Millennium Library in The Forum, and Chapelfield Gardens bandstand, each hosting a wide-range of musical styles throughout the day, from classical piano, steel pans to capoeira rhythms. Young musicians from Norwich Lower School and Access To Music took part as well as community groups from New Routes and professional soloists, in what was the second largest event in the UK for Make Music Day!

Xenia Horne, Norfolk Music Hub Community Coordinator, explained how she came to organise the stages for Make Music Day in Norwich: “A chance meeting at the premiere of Mahogany Opera‘s premiere Mozart v Machine in Folkestone earlier this year, was the unlikely starting point for the first Make Music Day event in Norwich! Alison Porter was finishing her role with the opera company before taking the lead on the UK wide initiative.

After much planning, it was amazing to see six steel pan players accompanied by Colin Shaw on drums playing at the top of the West Atrium at NNUH, and being the first musicians to perform on a day full of music. I was delighted at the support for the idea that was evident in offers of help from around the city; Cookes Pianos provided an electric keyboard for the Millenium Library, OPEN offered a PA to be set up in the Bandstand in Chapelfield Gardens, and Norwich City Council gave us the bandstand to use as one of our stages. Access to Music brought 30 young people to come along and play during the afternoon. The live music crossed all musical genres from Samia Malik’s beautiful singing in Urdu, the Blasian Band and Mussa the Messiah from New Routes, to Ian Brownlie’s blues and the wonderful classical music performed by Ivan McCready and Caroline Bishop.

There were some magical moments too; in the Millenium Library (where I performed too) one audience member was moved to tears and came up to kiss our hands. At the Chapelfield Bandstand many people told us how wonderful it was to have young people performing during the day. At the Hospital, one patient said that the music had transformed his monthly visit and he hoped that there could be more in the future.

I would like to thank all the performers who gave their time and energy to make this happen, and especially to Carl Cole who was the Music Hub’s technical chief for the day, Eloise O’Hare and Emma Jarvis at the NNUH who have been enthusiastically supportive from the outset, Ilona Clarke and Elizabeth at Millenium Library, Karl Dickerson for the PA loan from OPEN, Richard Allain (Head of Music at Norwich School), Nicky Dunnett and Norwich School staff who brought the Steel Pans to NNUH, Rachel McLanaghan for chaperoning musicians, and Kate Warner (who event managed at the Bandstand in sweltering heat). Also Clare Hubery from Norwich City Council for the use of the Bandstand and Hannah Cott who documented the whole event for the Music Hub, dashing from stage to stage across the city! We created the second biggest event in the UK for Make Music Day 2017 so let’s see if we can create a county-wide celebration next time!”

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