Authored by Siobhan Shay - Voluntary Intern for One Education Music
Nearly 2,000 children from schools across Greater Manchester travelled to the Bridgewater Hall for the culmination of the Big Sing project 2016. The theme this year was gospel and soul and included music from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, as well as a finale of ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ by the Blues Brothers, which was a fantastic way to end the session.
Schools have been working on the songs for months in preparation for this celebration, which brings them together to sing in a mass vocal group accompanied by a live band of professional musicians. Jed Marciniak led a rousing warm up to get all of the audience involved, getting them singing, dancing and clapping before the session began. Carla Jane, a nationally celebrated gospel singer, proceeded to lead the singing with two great backing singers – Rachael Perkins from Xaverian College and Aurelie Ntezilyayo from St Peter’s RC High School. John Rudden (lead vocals in ‘I got you’ and ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’) brought his energy and style to the stage with some exceptional dancing which the children in the front rows were all copying!
There was a large band accompanying the children, with drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, and a full brass section bringing the hall alive with music. I could see that the children were amazed by the power of the sound that they were helping to create, giving them a totally different experience from that available to them in school. It was absolutely wonderful to see the Bridgewater Hall filled with such a great sound and to see everyone enjoying themselves – even the staff couldn’t help joining in!
A personal highlight for me was seeing nearly every one of the 2,000 children perform the actions to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and they didn’t need prompting, they did them completely independently. Throughout all of the songs the children were clapping and dancing – I could see a couple of lines forming in the front rows with everyone dancing together. Another favourite moment was the Stevie Wonder medley, which included songs such as ‘Superstition’ and ‘Isn’t She Lovely’. What perfected the moment in my eyes was pianist Michael Mukiibi appearing at the front of the stage to give a wonderful Stevie Wonder tribute – complete with the sunglasses!
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Big Sing; the roof was certainly raised at the Bridgewater Hall. The final number was a fabulous way to end the session and left everyone feeling happy and uplifted as they made their way back to school. I look forward to seeing what the theme is for next year!