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Fakenham Wensum column: Impulse Outreach teenagers shine at Christ Church, Fulmodeston



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It was in late January that a quartet of players, formerly students from the Purcell School, came on tour here to perform at a couple of north Norfolk venues.

Called Ensemble L’Eveil they were very professional and had already made a name for themselves in wider musical circles. Younger pupils from the Purcell have been making annual visits to this region for many years as part of their Impulse Outreach programme.

This gives them the challenge of inspiring musical interest amongst junior school pupils as well as giving concerts.

Wensum: the Purcell School musicians at the end of their performances in Christ Church, Fulmodeston.
Wensum: the Purcell School musicians at the end of their performances in Christ Church, Fulmodeston.

Their main link with us is through Christ Church, Fulmodeston, thanks to one of their mentors, Alison Cox, who lives in the village. Another who has been instrumental in keeping this link active has been Stephen Miles, a professional singer who also calls Fulmodeston home. Christ Church is aligned with Fakenham Parish Church with the rector of Fakenham acting as priest in charge of the Fulmodeston church.

Because of the pandemic the last time a cohort of Purcell students had been able to play here was in 2019 but earlier this month we were treated to a visit from a dozen or so of these outstanding young musicians.

Led by Alison, who was recently honoured with an OBE, these 16 and 17-year-olds demonstrated their wonderful talents to the delight of a packed church. The reunion was a great thrill for all concerned and as I took my seat in one of the front pews it was good to see a fair number of youngsters in the audience.

The programme had been put together by the students who were obviously keen to show off their skills on the various instruments they played. I had to marvel at the gentle playing of the harpist whose harp must have taken some strong handling to haul all the way up to Norfolk.

Everyone impressed but I related to the young man on the xylophone who performed one item out front which clearly struck a chord with a child seated just a few feet from him. Such was the power of his rhythm that she bounced up and down, her face a wreath of smiles. It is this kind of engagement which I’m sure the Purcell students are keen to convey.

They already love music and love playing together but when so many schools now limit the teaching of music it’s not often that youngsters get to hear it live in this such a brilliant fashion.

Part of every timetable whilst staying with us for a few days was to visit a number of local schools in places like Little Snoring and Burnham Market and be given fairly free reign to apply teaching skills.

The feedback from these experiences told me that this personal engagement was a great thrill for the musicians. I’ve no doubt it was something similar for the children sitting at their feet and also joining in. I do hope that this long-standing tie with the Purcell School will be revived and that the annual visits, so eagerly anticipated, can now continue to take place on a regular basis.

Wensum



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