Opening hits the high notes

Kathryn Tickell at the opening of the new music school at KEVI.
Kathryn Tickell at the opening of the new music school at KEVI.

A PACKED audience enjoyed the sounds of a county instrument as a special guest came along to open the new purpose-built home for a Morpeth school’s music department.

Kathryn Tickell, exponent of the Northumbrian small pipes, performed at an event that celebrated the refurbishment and extension of the West Cottingwood building at King Edward VI School.

And there was also plenty of warm applause for the seven students who showcased their talents during the concert – Robyn Bartlett, Peter Bredin-Kemp, Rebecca Megwa, Ben Peters, Marion Peters, Tristan Selden and Jack Ward.

As well as the state-of-the-art classrooms, performance areas and rehearsal spaces, the music school has a recording studio which has enabled KEVI to offer an A-Level in music technology. In addition, a bandstand has been installed next to the building for outdoor performances.

West Cottingwood, built in 1890, is a traditional Victorian villa and was the headmaster’s house when the grammar school was originally built.

It was being used for music and textiles – the textiles section has been relocated elsewhere in the school. A new roof was also fitted during the works.

Executive headteacher Simon Taylor said: “This is a great day for us, recognising our long track record of excellence in music and demonstrating our commitment to the enrichment of the curriculum.

“The building was in desperate need of a refurbishment and we’re all delighted that we’ve been able to transform and extend it into an excellent resource for our music staff and students.”

The cost of the development was £400,000 and it was largely funded by a grant from the Education Funding Agency.

It is among the successful bids made by the The Three Rivers Learning Trust, which also includes Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Technology Colleges, to funding pots available to academy schools.

Trust chair Roger Vaughan said: “We were delighted to welcome Kathryn Tickell, a great musician who has done so much to showcase the Northumbrian music tradition. Some of our ceilidh band members have had the privilege of playing with her and we couldn’t imagine anyone better to open the new building.”

KEVI has a fine record of music performance through its choirs, ceilidh band, jazz band, steelpan band, rock groups, community orchestra and big band and it has produced many musicals in recent years including West Side Story, Fame, Grease and Les Miserables.

These productions also provide an opportunity for students to develop their technical skills in backstage roles.

Marion Peters said: “The new music facilities are amazing. The quality of each room is of a high standard and it’s great that we now have a recording studio.

“Having the new building has also helped to increase the number of students joining the school choirs.”