Hub Highlights


Shropshire Young Musicians Parent Helpers Organisation


This group is a vital part of the support team for Shropshire Music Service. It functions as a PTA would for a school and meets around 4 times a year. The meetings are conducted in a relaxed manner and efficiently arrange the support needed for music service events. This can include front of house, serving refreshments and running raffles at a number of events throughout the year.

A large part of the contribution to Shropshire Music Service is the fund raising which happens in a number of ways. This enables the Music Service to support students with their learning in the range of ensembles we run. We also support children in challenging circumstances. SYMPHO continues to pay for the music for all ensembles and has recently bought 50 new music stands. It has also funded the purchase and repair of 2 ‘A’ clarinets and a saxophone.

We would welcome more help from anyone who would like to get involved. You don’t have to join the committee or attend the meetings. Please get in touch if you are able to offer your support as the success of SYMPHO has a very beneficial impact on the provision of music in the county.

Image preview

Ray Langton Music

Shropshire Youth Folk Ensemble (SYFE) had a wonderful time in 2019 playing at all sorts of places including making a memorable trip to play at a special youth event at Cecil Sharpe House in London, the home of the English Folk Dance & Song Society.

In August we said good byes to some of the older members but since then have welcomed in a whole new cohort of eager young people playing a mix of flutes to fiddles and drums to guitars.

Confidence is growing and some exciting things are planned for 2020. The first is a Musical Exploration Workshop where SYFE members will be the tutored by Laurel Swift and Ben Moss. Laurel was the founder of Shooting Roots who were the inspiration for development of youth folk ensembles across the country. In the evening SYFE will be hosting another public concert which as well as featuring themselves and their workshop achievements, will also include performances (music, song and clog dance) from Laurel and Ben.

SYFE will also be hosting their own workshop, open to everyone on July 11th at Church Stretton School. This will be followed by a public evening ceilidh.

For more details about how to join SYFE (for those aged 10-18 yrs. of age and any instrument) plus the chance to grab some concert tickets for the 21st March contact, or phone on 07799 408297. Also visit the SYFE website on and to find out more about Ray Langton Music

Image preview


from Lawrence Mortimer

Just drawing to a close at Oswestry’s Willow Gallery is a six-week-long exhibition of artworks inspired by the concerts of Whittington’s seventh music festival in May. The six artists involved in the project are all members of Borderland Visual Arts and had accepted the invitation to sit in on rehearsals and performances of the week-long ‘Czech Mates’ festival and to respond in their chosen media.


All of them were overwhelmed by the experience of witnessing eleven world-class musicians work another artform from the early stages of its creation into a performance masterpiece. “The ‘players’ were not only a very skilled and talented lot but also lovely people”, says Bob Knowles, whose abstract cello in cedarwood has pride of place in the Gallery window.


For Gill Crozier, it was the brilliance of the folk rhythms in Smetana and Dvořák that inspired her. “I was struck by the relationship between the physical movements of the musicians and the intricacies in the music”, she says.


Jood Gough’s first thoughts on entering Whittington church for a musicians’ rehearsal was “How can I possibly concentrate on drawing, when this utter gorgeousness is filling the building?” Judy Greaves has responded with two sculptures in slate highlighted in gold leaf. 


Karen Kirkland

from Ludlow Big Sing 2019

My role with Shropshire Music Service is always challenging with many rewards but the highlight for me this summer was the Ludlow Big Sing on Saturday 15th June 2019. It was the first year that Shropshire Music Service had organised this event as part of the Ludlow Fringe Festival. The idea of the Ludlow Big Sing is to fill the town with song during the opening weekend of the Fringe Festival. This year 8 local choirs including St Laurences C of E Primary school performed their own songs at various locations around the town and rotated every 15 minutes to a new position. The choirs then came together in the market square at the end of the afternoon and performed several joint pieces, to the delight of shoppers, parents and choir supporters. It was fantastic to hear a choir of 120+ singers of all ages performing together in the square. The town of Ludlow is very busy during the Fringe Festival and the choirs efforts were greatly received. We are organising the Ludlow Big Sing again on Saturday 20th June 2020 and we hope to get even more singers involved with this fabulous community project. 

Image preview

Image preview

Richard Pinsent

from Minsterley Eisteddfod 2019

My name is Richard Pinsent, I am 10 years old and I play the flute. This year was my first year of playing in the Minsterley Eisteddfod and I really enjoyed myself. I played the 2nd Movement of the Poulenc Flute Sonata which is a piece I really love to play because it goes really high and also really fast at some places.

I was so lucky that I was accompanied by a lady called Rowan who was an amazing pianist and I really enjoyed playing with her. I was a bit nervous because the stage was very big and it was a big hall but luckily for me playing my flute relaxes me so once I got going I was more relaxed. I really enjoyed playing my piece and listening to the other people in my category play. I found the comments from the judge useful and he was very kind in what he said about my playing which was nice.

It is also lucky that the village hall is so close to a play park – I also enjoyed playing in the park and the cakes were very tasty too.

I was very surprised to win the instrumental bursary but it meant that I have been able to buy a brand new flute which I love and the best thing about it is that it is an open hole flute which is what I really wanted because it makes some of my pieces like ‘the great train race’ sound so much better.

I am looking forward to playing in Minsterley for many more years so thank you to everyone who organizes it for making it such a fun event to take part in. I had a really good day out, I played my flute, ate some cake and went to the park – perfect!

Romany Wood at  Theatre Severn 2019,

by Alison Smith, Radbrook Primary  School

During the Spring term Radbrook Primary School Choir participated in the performance at Theatre Severn of Romany Wood. It is a piece written by David Gaukroger and Daivid Carr. This was in celebration of the Theatre Severn having been opened 10 years ago with the same production. At that time Radbrook School also took part in the event so it was lovely for us to be involved in it again.  Sometimes as a music coordinator at a primary school I get asked why I give up my time to run a choir…..

At the start of February this year the children in Radbrook choir, who ranged from year 3 to year 6 with a complete mixture of personalities and musical ability, initially faced quite a daunting task of learning a set of quite unusual songs both the by the melodies and the words. It is an interesting composition and as the weeks progressed the children gradually began to understand the interweaving of the songs to narration.

In early March they attended an initial rehearsal at the Shropshire Music Service to combine all the 200 singers together, hear the narration live and sing for the first time with the orchestra. David Gaukroger and David Carr were at this rehearsal. The children were fascinated to find they were singing to the composer, who was playing the piano and the original narrator. “ Wow! How did he write it?”, “ I am singing what he wrote!” “ I can’t wait to tell Mum and Dad what I’ve done. I am not so nervous now” and “ This has made the rehearsal really special, I can’t wait to perform at the Theatre.” were some of the children’s comments on the day.  They were so proud of the positive and encouraging feedback they received on their singing.

In the afternoon they had their first attempt with the orchestra. The children were amazed by the richness and the volume produced by the instruments. For some it took a while for them to get used to the noise level. They also realised how much they needed to concentrate and focus to get the timing right with the conductors. Again the children increased their ability levels further becoming very involved in the process. It was noted that none of the children chatted to each other during the long rehearsal. Their attention was fully focused on the singing. On returning to school the Choir sang with renewed enthusiasm and drive realising what they wanted to achieve.

Finally it came to the final rehearsal and performance at Theatre Severn. The children were so excited beforehand and yet very aware of the need to do everything correctly. What was interesting to see is that their different ages did not matter. They were encouraging each other on and they were together as ‘a choir’.  They were determined “to get it right.” Their reactions to viewing the theatre from the stage perspective out into the auditorium was of wonder, amazement and the thrill of  going to perform.  The nerves, although slightly present, were not overwhelming or detracting from the children’s enjoyment.

The actual performance was wonderful to see as I sat in the wings and watched the whole choir of 200 singing their hearts out with the orchestra. Total concentration, enthusiasm and effort by all. The loud applause at the end recognised their achievement.  The children had grown in confidence, understood dedication, resilience, team work and aiming for perfection, and were so proud, understandably, of their final success. They were so animated after the performance and were asking straight away “When can we do another one again?!”

Karen Kirkland Music - May 2019

Exciting news from our SMEH partner Karen Kirkland Music.

Karen Kirkland will have her music performed at a top UK cathedral as part of a special project helping youngsters into music. Karen’s "A Peace Blessing" will be sung at Belfast Cathedral on May 15th 2019 during the city's Primary School Choir of the Year competition. The St Anne Trust exists to raise funds for Belfast Cathedral's musical outreach project in primary schools in a divided and deprived area of Belfast. Part of the fundraising for this project is the Primary School "Choir of the Year" competition in May each year. After the schools have competed by singing their "own choice" works they all sing together under the direction of the Cathedral's musicians (whilst the adjudicator is considering his report) David Stevens, Organist of Belfast Cathedral has recommended that this year the schools will sing Karen's "A Peace Blessing". It comes after Karen's piece was performed last year at Symphony Hall, Birmingham as part of the "Sing" Music Mark West Midlands event, involving 14 music services and leaders of 13 music education hubs across the West Midlands. Karen's work was originally composed for the "One Day One Choir" global project - an inspiring global peace initiative which uses singing together to unite people around the world on World Peace Day September 21st.



Shrewsbury Brass Band - April 2019

After a particularly busy Festive season, January and February provided a much-needed respite for the band and an opportunity to refresh the band repertoire with enough time between concerts to take much of last season's music out and replace with new. In March several members of the band were fortunate enough to participate in the workshop with the Royal Corps of Signals, organised by Shropshire Music Service. It was a fantastic day of Brass playing with a concert performance at the end. On March 29th we had our first concert of the year at Memorial Hall in Bayston Hill which was a joint a fundraiser for the memorial hall and the band. The concert was very well attended with an audience of over 100! We tried out many of the pieces we’ve not played in public before with 5 new solo pieces featured including ‘Under the Boardwalk’ pictured below featuring Bb Bass and Trumpet.


4 Mar 2019

Brass Workshop with the Royal Corps of Signals Band

An amazing day of brass playing with a concert at the end.  A couple of quotes from our students' parents:

"I just wanted to say what a fantastic day it was on Saturday - an inspirational and enjoyable day for my daughter followed by stunning concert. Please pass on my thanks to the organisers and participants from Shropshire Music Service and the band of the Royal Corps of Signals."

"Thank you for an absolutely brilliant day!
My children have thoroughly enjoyed it. What an amazing experience for them both specially my eldest son who was truly inspired."

Thank you to all the bands men and women from the Royal Corps of Signals - you did everyone proud.

9 Feb 2019

Ray Langton Music

Shropshire Youth Folk Ensemble (SYFE) under the umbrella of Ray Langton Music is going from strength to strength with lots of interest in the wings from potential new members. The spring is definitely a good time to consider joining. Our repertoire is increasing to include some new songs, interesting arrangements and fun percussion. Watch out for smallest, double jointed dancing member SYFE Samour only member to be found in green T Shirt! 

In July SYFE will be heading for Cecil Sharp House in London. This is the HQ of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and SYFE have been invited to join the their annual Youth Take Over Day where SYFE will be joining other Folk Ensembles from across the country.

Along with rehearsals and regular performances SYFE is staging a fund raising ceilidh on March 2nd with the Cuckoo Ale Band (also part of Ray Langton Music) at Mereside Community Centre, Shrewsbury. A fun filled evening is in store and of course SYFE will be having their own performance spot.

For more details about how to join SYFE (for those aged 10-18 yrs of age and any instrument) plus the chance to grab some of the last few Ceilidh tickets contact, or phone on 07799 408297. Also visit the SYFE website on and to find out more about Ray Langton Music

21 Jan 2019

More from Minsterley Eisteddfod!

For most children growing up, Christmas and Birthdays would act as beacons of excitement on the calendar: the presents, the cake, the general delirium of anticipation. For me however, the ultimate beacon of excitement took the form of two printed words on the calendar: ‘Minsterley Eisteddfod’. With these words, the thrill of presents and cake were quickly overshadowed by the delight of butterflies in the stomach and that bubbling sense of eagerness to achieve a victory, be it a personal gain or a triumph in the form a little red rosette.

Looking back, it’s strange to think how one event could have such a significant impact in shaping a person. Although at risk of sounding cliché, I can honestly say that the influence of Minsterley Eisteddfod genuinely has shaped my passions and choices in life. In theory, entering a class is merely the process of selection, rehearsal, refinement and performance. But the reality of that process results in something far more valuable than just a successful performance. The process becomes more about a journey of development, one which involves building resilience, being the driver of your own motivation, using determination as your fuel, setting ambitious personal targets, learning to absorb constructive criticism, relishing the taste of victory and learning to value the taste of failure, because after all, that is what allows you to grow.

The skills I learnt from this process were instrumental in shaping my career and ventures so far. Following my love of Musical Theatre, I moved to Manchester to train at The Arden School of Theatre where I was fortunate enough to play the lead role in the final show of ‘Carmen Jones’. Whilst at Drama School, I was also selected to compete in the ‘Sondheim Society Student Performer of Year’ competition in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Music. Since my studies, I have also performed in a review show at London’s Leicester Square Theatre and also toured with a cabaret show in Paris and the South of France.

As I now continue in my work as a professional singer, I know that I have Minsterley Eisteddfod to thank for sparking my love of performance, nurturing that passion and immersing me in a community of knowledgeable and supportive professionals who have enriched my singing and performance experiences beyond measure.

Comment from Minsterley Eisteddfod.

Sadie Beth Holder has been competing since the age of 4 at the Eisteddfod both vocally and in the spoken word with huge success. We have watched her develop over the years, growing as an artist into a truly outstanding performer. She is a wonderful classical singer with her real forte being in the realm of Musical Theatre. We have seen her perform many times not only at competition level but also professionally over the years and the emotion and depth she portrays is breath-taking.

We are delighted that we have played a small part in giving Sadie a stage on which to perform and develop and also delighted that she is giving back to the community by becoming involved in the organisation of the Eisteddfod , inspiring the next generation of artists and keeping our legacy alive.

14 Jan 2019 

Karen Kirkland Music has been associated with the Shropshire Music Education Hub for several years. Karen is a published composer and arranger across a wide range of musical genres. Her main role with the Hub is supporting Shropshire Music Service by providing vocal teaching resources for teachers and children in Shropshire schools. Karen regularly supports the main Shropshire Music Service vocal event of the year “Shropshire Sings”. She has also composed choral works for Shropshire Girls Choir and SMEH partners Of One Accord choir and Shrewsbury Brass Band. 

One highlight of many has been the performance of Karen’s choral composition “A Peace Blessing” at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. This choral work was performed as part of the Music Mark West Midlands choral concert “Sing” at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. This fabulous event was organised by West Midlands Music Services from Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Solihull, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, Telford, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire and was conducted by Keith Orrell. Karen Kirkland Music is proud to be associated with the Shropshire Music Education Hub and looks forward to working on future projects. More information about Karen and her work with SMEH can be found on her website

7 Jan 2019

Minsterley Eisteddfod

Since the  age of four, I have competed in Minsterley Eisteddfod which has given me the opportunity to grow as a person in terms of confidence, stage presence and performance skills. I’ve also been able to meet some well-known adjudicators and received constructive feedback from them, which has contributed to me perfecting my performance and technical skills.

Since leaving Shrewsbury to pursue a career in Opera singing, I have studied Music at Cardiff University on the David Lloyd Vocal Scholarship, I have been a BBC National Chorus of Wales Scholar for two years, I have worked alongside artists and directors at Welsh National Opera; and I have recently been accepted to study a Masters degree in Vocal Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Although I have a long way to go before achieving my aspirations of being a full-time professional opera singer, along with my determination and skill, I can certainly say that Minsterley Eisteddfod has given me the platform to achieve what I have and to pursue my dream in the music industry. Many people will tell you that a career in music is not ‘realistic’ or ‘practical’, but in my opinion you should pursue your dreams and do something that you enjoy and that makes you happy in life.

Comment from Eisteddfod

Joanna did indeed compete at Minsterley Eisteddfod from the age of 4 and came every year to perform in the vocal and recitation classes. After achieving many successes in her singing particularly she focused on this part of her skill set. The encouragement received from our international adjudicators gave her the confidence to believe in herself as a performer and at a young age she knew this is what she wanted to do as a career.

Joanna won many of the Eisteddfods prizes but we remember one year when she didn’t do as well as she had hoped and a little bit of doubt crept in briefly ‘ could she actually do this’? A professional Opera singer who was singing at the Eisteddfod at our concert later in the Festival advised Joanna not to worry and I will always remember her words ‘ For every success you will have nine failures, which makes the success worth working for ‘. To her credit Joanna took this on board and with many years of hard work and determination she is now a wonderful performer and artiste.

The Eisteddfod exists to provide a platform upon which to perform and to give impartial advice to help an artist improve and develop, we have helped many young people over our 57 years and Joanna is just one of them. The right encouragement and spark at the right time can make a huge difference to an artist and we will continue to do this.

21 Dec 2018

Of One Accord