College in Telford opens new £2.5 million music school with more than 150 performers
A college in Telford has opened its new £2.5 million music school, with more than 150 performers marking the occasion.
British choral composer Philip Stopford made the trip from America to perform at Wrekin College's grand opening of its new building, consisting of 15 specialist rooms.
With planning for the purpose-built facility ongoing for the last three and a half years, the venue will act as a base for all musical subjects, performances and rehearsals, which previously toured the Sutherland Road campus using various rooms.
There were 160 performers that took to the stage to signify the start of the building's use in a series of performances throughout Friday night.
Led by conductor Philip Stopford, the group consisted of students combined with 80 members of the community.
Simon Platford, director of music at the college, said the new base was "like chalk and cheese" in comparison to its predecessor.
"I'm delighted we have this fantastic new facility. Music has grown hugely at the school and we needed somewhere to expand," he said.
"The biggest feature is the main rehearsal space which is an acoustically designed room to rehearse in.
"People see the size of it and think it's a place to host concerts, whereas it's designed to be hard work and quite dead and dry acoustically – it's like an athlete training at altitude.
"Our chapel has a lovely acoustic resonance but actually it's too easy to sing in. We need somewhere more difficult so when you move to a good performance space it'll sound loads better."
The school consists of six practice rooms, a percussion room, an organ room, two classrooms, a music library, instrument store, two ensemble rooms and a double height ensemble rehearsal space.
Seventeen-year-old upper sixth students Ben Norbury and Lori Murchie said the space to perform was a vital addition.
Ben said: "Where we were before, you could hear other performers through the wall so everyone having their own space is fantastic."
Lori added: "It's really exciting. It'll be great for the ensembles as there will be a bigger space for them to perform in."
Philip Stopford travelled to Telford from Bronxville, New York, where he is the director of music at Christ Church.
The 42-year-old, who was previously a chorister at Westminster Abbey, said: "I've written some choral music that the children here have sung over the years, so they invited me to come and open this brand new music school which I'm very excited about.
"There's about 10 to 12 of my own compositions that I've written over a number of years. It's amazing to come here and see students sing something I wrote when I was a student, it's very interesting in that respect."
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