“It was like a new beginning”: How C&C residents helped create a ‘Circle of Sound’ at the Royal Albert Hall


The Royal Albert Hall has celebrated its 150th anniversary this week with a special concert – and residents of C&C’s sheltered schemes played their own special part in marking the occasion.

Celebrated composer David Arnold, whose music has been heard in various James Bond films, Independence Day, and Sherlock among many other film and TV classics, created a ten-movement work that reflects the hall’s first 150 years. The work was premiered at the Hall for the first time on Monday (19 July), with special guests Melanie C, Michael Sheen, Nicola Adams and Brian Cox contributing to the performance.

Among the packed and enthusiastic audience at the performance, entitled ‘A Circle of Sound’ were 14 C&C residents, all of whom had contributed directly at music workshops held at C&C housing scheme Philip House before the first national lockdown took hold. David Arnold worked with a series of community groups across London, including C&C residents, to help generate ideas and inspire his composition.

Bertie McCarthy, a resident at Vivian Court, was one of those who took part in the workshops and who attended Monday’s concert.

“It was really interesting to meet David, he is a wonderful man,” said Bertie. “I got to sing and dance as part of the workshop – I sang an Elvis song and all the ladies at Philip House joined in with me!”

“The concert itself was breathtaking, absolutely amazing. It got a standing ovation, and just to be there, be a part of the show, was magnificent.”

Philip House resident Cathy Thuss also attended the workshops and Monday night’s performance.

“I really enjoyed the workshops as an opportunity to talk about what the Albert Hall meant to me,” Cathy explained. “I first went there as a 12 year old in 1947 and it was my first introduction to classical music. We were still recovering from the war, and our education wasn’t great, so to be taken to somewhere like that was amazing.”

“This week’s concert was just as fabulous. We’ve had lockdowns over and over and such a miserable time recently where we couldn’t do anything. But we all clapped together, the Hall was packed, it made such a difference to me. It was like a new beginning.”

A special anniversary concert video has been produced by the Royal Albert Hall, marking David Arnold’s music workshops in preparation for composing the works. It can be viewed here:

Photos and video used in this story are copyright of The Royal Albert Hall

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