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Students from Accrington Academy took to the stage this week for a sold-out performance at London’s prestigious Lyceum Theatre.

Conducted by popular composer Alexander L’Estrange, students and staff from the academy joined a host of other schools from all across the country to perform songs from Zimbe! Those involved were all part of United Learning – a unique group of state and independent schools located across the country from Portsmouth to Carlisle.

Zimbe! is an imaginative fusion of traditional African song and jazz, which as a choral piece seeks to bring communities together. Given the geographic spread of the schools, students from Accrington Academy had been rehearsing their parts alone for months, with very few opportunities to practice as one ensemble choir before the final show-stopping performance at the central London venue.

Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts for United Learning, said:

I am immensely proud of all the students and staff that have performed in and helped organise such a spectacular event. I am particularly pleased with the feedback from students and staff who have said how much they enjoyed the opportunity to get together with other schools to perform Zimbe! Events like this one show off the uniqueness of a group like United Learning as a true partnership between state and independent schools.

Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning, said:

One of the advantages of being a national group of schools is that we can bring our most talented students together from all over the country to participate in events like this. An opportunity to sing in a magnificent theatre like the Lyceum is an ambition that many have but few get the opportunity to realise, so it’s been wonderful to see our students enjoy the experience and come together to perform.

Accrington Academy Principal Andy O’Brien was also keen to praise the venture.

It’s not every day that you get the chance to sing in a leading London Theatre. Those of our students who took part were really inspired by the experience, as well as enjoying the chance to meet students from other schools across United Learning.