December 1, 2021

Jamie Cullum at Leighton Park!

Currently promoting his tour, which is of course sold out in the UK, and accompanying album, ‘The Pianoman at Christmas’, Jamie Cullum is a busy man! The British-born singer-songwriter is a successful musician on guitar, drums, piano and vocals and has released 12 albums and 24 singles to date. His phenomenal talents have earned him a well-deserved place on the jazz-pop scene and he now regularly presents a jazz show on Radio Two on Tuesday evenings. It has therefore been all the more of an incredible treat for our music students to enjoy his company not once, but twice in the same term!

Familiar with Reading from his time at the University studying English Literature and Film Studies, Jamie’s visit to Leighton Park needed to be virtual on Wednesday 1st December, since he was simultaneously required at a school in Suffolk! Six of our most musical students from Years 9 and 10 joined Jamie and the other school in an online collaboration, rehearsing in real time on cutting-edge cloud-hosted software. The innovative software will allow musicians across the world to work together seamlessly without the need to share physical studio space, a development which will open up a whole host of possibilities. Artists will be able to collaborate whilst on tour, whilst recording an album or even between more mundane commitments at the same time as reducing their carbon footprint by cutting air travel and hotel bills. This software could significantly change the way the music industry works together and our students were lucky enough to gain a sneak preview (twice!) prior to its official release.

Lara Rawlings, Assistant Director of Music, commented, “It is an honour for our students to be involved in such exciting trials, and to be able to combine this with working with a world class musician such as Jamie Cullum for an hour, is fantastic.”

Year 9 drummer, Oscar, enthused, “It felt really immersive and realistic. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take part in such a unique masterclass. The tech is very unique and clever. It does make you feel like you are in the same room as them!”

Pianist, Alice (Year 9) added, “I feel incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to be part of the workshop! Learning from a professional musician such as Jamie Callum is a great experience that doesn’t often come by. His area of expertise, jazz improvisations, was particularly interesting. The project Bonza Music is working on has such an impact in the modern age, especially in pandemic times. The technology itself is incredibly accurate and creates a feeling of closeness, despite the distance between locations.”

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