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By Open Air Theatre
Pimlico Musical Foundation (PMF) is a charity that offers free music tuition to children in Pimlico who may otherwise be unable to access it, to enable them to achieve their full musical potential and, in doing so, improve social cohesion in one of London’s most complex communities.
Research shows that just eight weeks of music can significantly improve a child’s perception, language and literacy skills, and have a significant impact on their personal and social development. It also shows that group music lessons promote social cohesion and result in increased levels of engagement amongst young people. All this can change a child’s life chances and career prospects.
Over the last four years PMF has worked with the schools in and around Westminster’s largest estate, the Churchill Gardens. This has been a time when school budgets are under pressure and the range of subjects offered in schools has sometimes narrowed at the expense of music. PMF gives free support to Pimlico primary schools.
Alongside their school-based work, PMF offer extra-curricular opportunities, including the Pimlico Children’s Choir, which meets after school, and the Foundation Choir, an initiative under which 18 children sing Evensong once a week. Every project undertaken is selected based on its value for the children, both educationally and socially.
The chorus in our production of Hansel and Gretel comprises children from the Pimlico Children’s Choir and Foundation Choir, drawn from Millbank Academy, Westminster Cathedral Primary School, Churchill Gardens Primary Academy, Pimlico Primary, St Gabriel’s Primary and from two local state secondary schools, the Grey Coat Hospital and Westminster City School.
Participating in this professional production, alongside world-class singers and musicians, will be a life-changing experience for these children, and it is exciting to follow their development.
James Day is the Director of Music of the Pimlico Musical Foundation. He read Music at Durham University and Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. As well as his work with the Pimlico Musical Foundation he is the Director of the Tiffin Boys’ Choir and Director of the Barnes Music Festival. He has directed children’s choruses for performances with all of the London orchestras, Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the BBC Proms.