Gad’s Hill musicians welcomed Director of Medway Music Association, Derek Blease to their school’s annual celebration of music, as guest of honour and official adjudicator.
Mr Blease had the unenviable task of judging the 17 performers, already ranked the school’s most promising after an open concert held for all artists who wanted to perform a solo piece, at the Gad’s Spring Music Festival.
Juniors and Seniors from the independent Higham school sang and played a variety of instruments, including rock guitar, recorder and marimba, for Mr Blease and a packed auditorium before hearing the esteemed judge’s critique and final decision on who would take the coveted winning titles.
In his address to the crowd, Mr Blease praised the talent and commitment of all the musicians and reminded them to thank their parents, teachers and supporters for encouraging their talent and listening to many a rehearsal!
Mr Blease, who launched the Medway Youth Orchestra and Medway Youth Choir in 2015, went on to say: “We have been treated to some truly exquisite recitals tonight.
“Both vocalists and instrumentalists have shown such maturity and their personal interpretations of some beautiful and well-known pieces were mesmerising.
“It is always so so difficult to call a winner, as on a different evening it could have been a different result – I must reward those who had that extra sparkle on the night, but not before commending the outstanding musicianship that we have all enjoyed.”
He then presented 15-year-old Vice Head of School Natasha Kinsman, from Maidstone, with the Senior shield and Alice Thorpe, 10, from Higham, with the Junior trophy.
Natasha wowed with a ‘moving rendition’ of ‘There are worse things I could do’ from hit musical Grease, while Alice ‘enchanted the crowd’ with a medley of classical tunes on the marimba.
The annual event is a celebration of classical and contemporary arrangements showcasing the students’ musical abilities. Participants win a place after being selected by a panel of judges in the school’s Developing Musicians Concert, where all students are invited and encouraged to take part, regardless of experience or skill.
Derek Blease is Director of Medway Music Association and Music Adviser to Dynamics – The Medway Music Education Hub and Medway Council, providing musical opportunities to 12,000 children and young people, including Festival performances in Rochester Cathedral, the Central Theatre and the Brook Theatre. He was proud to launch the Medway Youth Orchestra and Medway Youth Choir in 2015, providing full routes to progression for Medway’s young musicians.
After graduating from London University, Derek launched his music teaching career in Medway and Kent, ultimately gaining experience in all phases of education. In 1982, he was awarded a Master’s Degree and three years later was appointed Specialist Inspector for Music and Director of the Kent Youth Choir, which he conducted for ten years. Derek also founded a wide range of county choral ensembles and has led Kent County Music Service.
In 1988, Derek was promoted to the Post of County Inspector for Music in Medway and Kent. In addition to advising on music education strategy, policy and monitoring, Derek is well known as a Choral and Music Festival Director and Adjudicator. He has conducted young people abroad, including France, Belgium, Germany and Italy and has directed prestigious concerts in Cathedrals at home and abroad, as well as at venues such as London’s Royal Festival Hall and the Fairfield Hall. Derek works with people of all ages and abilities and is in great demand as a Consultant, Lecturer, Adjudicator, Festival Director and Conductor both within and beyond Medway and Kent.