World music to steal show at prom

5th November 2004 at 00:00
To the beat of African drums, a line of 10-year-olds, their faces hidden by brightly painted masks, parade across the stage. Meanwhile, a duo in Latin American tunics and fedoras wait on the sidelines.

These are the multinational pupils of St Mary's Roman Catholic primary, in Clapham, south London, rehearsing Just The Way You Are, to be performed at the Schools Proms, next week. Almost 3,000 young people, chosen from 12,000 applicants, will perform at the proms, sponsored by The TES.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the concerts, which allow young performers to take over London's Royal Albert Hall for three nights.

Outnumbering the school orchestras are less conventional performers, such as clog dancers, balalaika players and the costumed dancers of St Mary's.

The concerts take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and each will close with Land of Hope and Glory, conducted by 14-year-old Matthew Ryan, a pupil at Smithills comprehensive, Bolton.

He is the youngest conductor of this piece ever to appear at the Schools Proms. "That's the song to conduct," he said. "It's got a big feel about it, and everyone sings along.

"I want to be chief conductor of the BBC symphony. Realistically, I hope to have conducted Land of Hope and Glory at the last night of the Proms in five years' time."

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