Celebrating 20 years of the Hackney Schools Music and Dance Festival


Over 5,000 young musicians took part in the Hackney Schools Music and Dance Festival this month, now in its 20th year.

The annual festival is the biggest and one of the most popular events in the school calendar and this year ran from 26 June to 7 July at the Round Chapel in Hackney. Children from schools across the borough came together to highlight and celebrate their musical achievements and progress made throughout the year.

Starting out as a two-day singing event with 12 schools participating in 1997, the festival has now grown into a fortnight of singing, instrumental, dance and partnership day events with more than 70 schools taking part.

The launch concert, held on Monday 26 June at the Barbican, brought together elements from across the festival programme, with performances from bands, vocal groups, choirs, creative ensembles, orchestras and collaborations with partners including the London Symphony Orchestra, VCM Foundation and the Hackney Empire.

Helen, parent of Rudi, 11, at Jubilee school, said: “What an amazing evening! It was quite the talk of the school at Jubilee and am sure at all the other schools too. I brought my parents along and I am so glad I did as they were quite staggered by what has been achieved. Those 20 years of music and concerts have surely changed many young people’s lives for the better. I am so proud that Rudi was able to be a part of it and thankful to all at Hackney Music Service for their hard work and dedication.”

Over the last 20 years, more than 72,000 children have participated in the Hackney Schools Music and Dance Festival. The singing festivals are un-auditioned events encouraging children of all abilities to participate in energetic vocal performances in a wide range of styles and genres. This year sees the addition of an early years and foundation stage singing festival, which completes the suite of singing events from nursery through to secondary school.