- By Abi Jenkins
2016's London Primary Proms were a dream come true for Rachel Rankin-Hayward.
Having opened what are now the Music for Youth Proms as a performer back in 1987, Rachel was overjoyed to be able to give her young pannists in Turtles Steel Band a chance to experience the Royal Albert Hall stage for themselves in 2016. Take a look at what the Times Educational Supplement had to say about Rachel's first foray onto the Royal Albert Hall stage, and read more about her story below!
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"In spring 1985 the Radcliffe School (Milton Keynes) music department started a steel band: The Radcliffe Rollers. Less than two years later and thanks to the hard work of Music Head Neil Davison and steel pan tutor Richard Murphy and lots of dedication and practice from us players, the band was invited to open the first night of Music for Youth’s 1997 Schools Prom season at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a momentous performance for us, especially as, the night before, the band had been placed fourth in the UK’s (adult!) Steel Band Music Festival and I had been awarded second place in the soloists competition. Being the opening act we had learnt a funky version of The National Anthem and included in our programme ‘Ave Maria’ (Bach/Gounod) featuring vocal soloist Joseph Servi (who has gone on to have a successful career singing in West End musical theatre)
On becoming a steel pan teacher in my own right I was keen for my pupils to take part in Music For Youth Festivals and over the years have had four different band
s on nine occasions perform at the National Festival. I was delighted that in 2006 The Dollis Deep Pans were awarded a certificate of excellence at the National Festival in Birmingham, and finally in 2016 I had a dream come true when my young pannists in The Turtles Steel Band were invited to perform at the Primary Proms. It is a real thrill for me to see youngsters having the same experience of performing at a prestigious venue that I did when I was a teenager. It is perhaps even more of a joy so see young children grow and develop as both musicians and people throughout our musical journeys together."