Birthday gift to Sir Malcolm

A Birthday Celebration @ St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

A birthday Celebration @ St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


One of Sir Malcolm Arnold's musical tenets is that it should have good tunes, and many of his were showcased yesterday evening in an enterprising venture by pupils of a number of mid-Norfolk schools to mark his 80th year.

Arnold's music inspired around 200 youngsters to play, dance, sing, write and paint celebratory tableaux.

Proceedings started with Attleborough Juniors, together with pupils from Eccles and Hingham Primaries, transporting us to Japan in the Turtle Drum in which, despite it being difficult to consistently hear all the words, it was good to watch “the whole company” taking part – Tea with the Princess being quite delightful. Emily Clarke's confident singing and immaculate diction in Lloyd Webber's arrangement of Whistle Down the Wind was a precursor to music from that film and from the Bridge on the River Kwai as inspiration for interesting artwork projected onto large screens. Sweeter innocence was portrayed by Attleborough Ballet School pupils – especially the dear little daffodils.

Cawston Silver Band and guest players performed Arnold favourites the Padstow Lifeboat and Cornish Dances but, as Sir Malcolm told me, he was particularly pleased that children were engaged in his music as he thoroughly enjoyed his birthday present from his adopted Norfolk.