World Music Day: a chance to reflect
World Music Day takes place annually on 21 June, during the summer solstice, and celebrates the positive power of music to bring people together and spread joy. Originating in France in 1982, World Music Day now takes place in over 700 cities worldwide, providing free music performances in public spaces for everyone to enjoy.
As we celebrated this year’s event this week, it’s timely to reflect on the important role played by music at St Mary’s. With an increasing emphasis on the STEM subjects in schools, it can sometimes be forgotten that music and the arts are a vital part of the mix. At St Mary’s we foster a creative and innovative culture of learning, and music in all its forms is woven into the fabric of everyday life here. The Music Department itself is at the very heart of the School, in a beautiful location overlooking Cambridge University’s Botanic Gardens.
Music appreciation starts early at St Mary’s, with the Junior School’s ‘Composer of the Month’ activities, including themed assemblies and activities focused on a chosen composer. The girls enjoy completing listening tasks around each composer’s most famous pieces, as well as trying their hand at composition and performance in a similar style.
It is wonderful to see so many musicians from Year 1 through to Year 6 sign up to perform in the ‘Teatime Concert’ programme throughout the year. These concerts are a fantastic opportunity for girls to perform for each other and share their love of music. We believe regular performance opportunities help shape well-rounded musicians. Every St Mary’s girl is part of a choir or a choral ensemble, rehearsing weekly and performing at key School events. A highlight of the Spring term is traditionally the Years 3 and 4 stage production, showcasing the immense talent of our girls through singing, acting and dancing.
As well as offering Music at GCSE and A Level, there are a host of extra-curricular opportunities for older girls, including competitions, concerts and workshops. The annual Young Pianist of the Year competition includes students from Years 6 to 13 performing a range of repertoire, from Baroque to Modern, each to a very high standard.
The Young Musician of the Year competition celebrates the wealth of musical talent from across the school. Of course, the pandemic has impacted our programme of workshops and concerts, but this does not overshadow some amazing recent individual achievements.
Maryam in Year 11 is a finalist in the East Anglian Young Composer competition, with her composition ‘Alone, Together’ for violin and piano. The final will be held in July at Churchill College Chapel, where the piece will be performed by members of the Phaedra ensemble, as part of the Cambridge Music Festival. Huge congratulations to Maryam for this massive achievement.
This term, two talented St Mary's students achieved the prestigious ARSM qualification, a performance diploma for musicians who have already taken their Grade 8 examination, awarded by the esteemed Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Pianist Chloe W. in Year 9 received a Merit, and music scholar Gerri S. in Year 11 achieved a Distinction. Both girls are shining examples of the talent within the music department.
World Music Day celebrates the impact has had on the world and the human spirit. That music has the power to transform lives is undisputed. As former Music Captain Annabelle B. put it, “Music at St Mary’s gave me, for the first time, the confidence to feel that I have something worthwhile to offer”. Let’s remember those words today, and reflect on the amazing musical achievements of St Mary’s girls past and present. Congratulations to all our girls on their wonderful performances throughout the year and to all the parents who continually support their daughters to pursue their love of music.
Find out more about music at St Mary's School, Cambridge with our films below: