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Islington Music Centre pupils to appear on BBC Proms – and founder Richard Frostick couldn’t be prouder

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:37 18 July 2017

Richard Frostick with the Music Centre London choir rehearsing at Laycock Primary School this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

Richard Frostick with the Music Centre London choir rehearsing at Laycock Primary School this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Twenty-five years ago, Richard Frostick founded Islington Music Centre. It’s still going strong. He tells the Gazette why it’s as important as ever – as 23 of his students gear up for the Proms.

Richard Frostick with the Music Centre London choir rehearsing at Laycock Primary School this week. Picture: Polly HancockRichard Frostick with the Music Centre London choir rehearsing at Laycock Primary School this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

Richard Frostick is the man who teaches Islington to sing.

As founder of Islington Music Centre 25 years ago, he has given kids from all walks of life a route into singing, and music.

That includes 23 pupils who will perform at the BBC Proms on Thursday.

It’s a legacy of Richard’s forward thinking back in 1992. A former head of music at Islington Green School, now City of London Academy Islington, he joined Islington Council’s education department as music advisor (can you imagine that job title existing in today’s culture of government cuts?) in 1990.

"Big names, like Paloma Faith, have come through. [But] we’re not a fame school, we’re not interested in fame. We’re interested in kids doing the best they can"

Richard Frostick

He quickly noticed something was missing. “There wasn’t a music centre for kids in Islington,” Richard recalls.

He subsequently founded Islington Music Centre. After the recruitment process (“we were inundated with applications”) sessions started at a sixth form centre in Annette Road, Holloway.

Today, the centre (recently re-branded as Music Centre London) is a charity and runs from Laycock Primary School, off Upper Street in Laycock Street. Overall, Richard estimates about 5,000 Islington children have passed through its doors.

“Big names, like Paloma Faith, have come through,” he says, before quickly pointing out: “We’re not a fame school, we’re not interested in fame. We’re interested in kids doing the best they can.

“There are so many times where I have nearly burst with pride. Before today, we have performed at six BBC Prom concerts. The Horrible Histories prom in 2006 sticks out. All 150 of our kids were just amazing.

“Great events like that always stand out, but day-to-day it’s also about seeing the children make huge progress and really get something out of it. It’s these quiet triumphs that don’t make headlines but make a difference. That’s why we are here.”

Richard is proud of his diverse school. “Islington is a very misunderstood borough, nationally. It tends to be seen as a gin-swilling, left-wing paradise with its posh Georgian squares. But it’s one of the poorest boroughs in the country. That’s something we are very aware of, and aim for as much equality as we can in our selection process.

“We’re able to offer free places in cases of hardship. Our focus is opportunity regardless of background.

“Isn’t it fantastic that Islington kids can get up on stage at the Proms and sing?”

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