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HMS Music Director

Ben Stevens

Leadership Team for Herts Music Service

Lisa Quinlan-Rahman
Ben Stevens
Vicki Roberts
Michael Mabbitt
Katherine Wolfenden
Deena Day
Angela Gilby
Rebecca Kelly
Nick Denham

Gala 2020 - Blog

















Blog Post 2

Welcome back to the brand-new blog all about the Hertfordshire Schools’ Gala 2020! Read on to find out who has won the Hertfordshire Songwriter competition and will be performing their song live at the Gala as well as some exclusive footage of the making and recording of the new commission that the school choirs will be singing – “I am Alban”.

Songwriter competition 2019 winners announced!

We’re very excited to announce the two winning songs of the Songwriter competition, which will feature in the afternoon and evening concerts respectively; “Finding My Way”, written by Matt Debnam, a pupil at Dame Alice Owen’s School and Charlotte Nairne, a pupil at Sandringham School and “Talk to Me”, written by Lorna Thompson, a pupil at Hitchin Girls’ School. Both songs were written and performed live at our songwriting workshops which took place in music centres across Hertfordshire during school holidays. They will now go into a production phase to develop them for the performance. Keep an eye out for a later blog post where we’ll be sharing some clips of interviews and rehearsals with the songwriter winners!

We received a high number of high-quality songs, and decisions reflected the balance of the overall Gala programme. We are planning more exciting opportunities to perform as part of Songwriter 2020, which will run as part of Hertfordshire’s Year of Culture 2020. Songwriter is open to all young people aged 8-18 who live or go to school in Hertfordshire. To listen to the winning songs, and for more information about how you can get involved, go to

Take a look at the making of the song "I am Alban".

The school choirs will be singing the exciting new piece "I am Alban" in the Gala by UK Composer Anne Dudley with lyrics by Ian McMillan, based on the story of Saint Alban.  

Have a read: Click here to find out about more the story of "I am Alban" and what the school choirs will be singing about.

Have a look: Take a look at the exclusive video clips below of composer Anne Dudley and Rufus Frowde, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Gala, talking about the story of ‘I am Alban’ and a behind the scenes clip of the recording of the piece…

Anne Dudley reflects on the inspiration behind composing I am Alban and its story:

A behind the scenes clip of the recording of I am Alban:


What’s coming up…

This week the Gala team are going to visit the Royal Albert Hall! Keep an eye out for our next blog post which will be a Royal Albert Hall special with a behind the scenes tour, photos, a quiz and more…

See you next time!



Hertfordshire Music Service


Blog Post 1

Welcome to the brand new blog all about the Hertfordshire Schools’ Gala 2020! We’ll be posting a new blog post here every couple of weeks in the lead up to the Gala on Sunday 8th March 2020 with lots of new and exciting content. Keep an eye out for announcements, quizzes, interviews, behind the scenes footage and lots more…

For those of you who are new here, read on to find out about more the upcoming Gala and what’s in store.


The Hertfordshire Schools’ Gala happens every two years with school choirs from all over Hertfordshire taking to the stage for one day in the Royal Albert Hall. Dancers, instrumental players and winners of the Songwriter competition also get to perform on stage. 

Programme Announcement

Here at Hertfordshire Music Service we’re really excited to announce the programme for the Gala 2020 and we’ve got a great line up this year. The massed choirs will sing in a new commission, I am Alban, by UK composer Anne Dudley, based on the story of Saint Alban with lyrics by Ian McMillan, as well as arrangements of S Club 7 Reach, Pharrell Williams Happy, and Coldplay A Sky Full of Stars. Why not take a listen to the original tracks below to get a feel for the upcoming programme.


The Saint by Orbital – instrumental piece

The Saint is the opening song in the Gala. It was one of Orbital’s biggest hit singles in 1997 reaching number three in the UK Charts. It is the soundtrack from the film ‘The Saint’ and is an updated version of Edwin Astley's theme music from the 1960s TV series The Saint. 

Take a listen:


Reach by S Club 7 – massed choir

S Club 7 were a huge pop band in the 2000s. Reach was one of their biggest hits and was number two in the UK Charts. In just 5 years from 1998 - 2003, S Club 7 had four number one singles, released four albums, 11 singles and sold over 10 million albums!

Take a listen:


I am Alban by Anne Dudley – massed choir

UK Composer Anne Dudley has written a new commission, I am Alban with lyrics by Ian McMillan, based on the story of Saint Alban which will have its world premiere at the Gala. 

Take a read: Click here to find out about more the story of I am Alban.


A Sky Full Of Stars by Coldplay – massed choir

Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars was released in 2014 and co-written and co-produced with Avicii. The song hit the top 10 in over 16 countries and was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 57th Grammy Awards.

Take a listen:


Happy by Pharrell Williams – massed choir

You may recognise Happy by Pharrell Williams from the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2. It was the most downloaded song of all time in the UK in September 2014 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to Let It Go from Frozen.

Take a listen:

We’re really looking forward to Gala 2020 and we hope you are too! Head back to this page in a couple of weeks for the next blog post featuring behind the scenes footage of the recording of the new commission I am Alban and special interviews about the piece with composer Anne Dudley and artistic director Rufus Frowde.

See you next time!



Hertfordshire Music Service