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A sparkling opening for Leighton Park’s new Music and Media Centre


The best comes to those who wait - and so it proved on Tuesday 26th March at the much-anticipated official opening of the Michael Malnick Centre (MMC) for music and media.

In the afternoon, members of the Leighton Park community and special guests enjoyed a glittering opening celebration in the spectacular MMC Upper Foyer. Karen Gibson, Conductor of the Kingdom Choir, opened the new facilities with an inspiring and heart-warming speech. Referring to the passionate teaching staff at Leighton Park, she noted:

“This centre is beautiful and impressive and the Yamaha pianos are grand, and I’m so jealous, but you all are inimitable, and the grace, love and power in you is what I see around me. Your ability and desire to make your ceiling their floor is what I sensed when I first walked in here for my first House Music competition."

The floor to ceiling windows of the MMC Upper Foyer provided a spectacular backdrop of the Park bathed in a silvery Spring light, with performances from Leighton Park students adding to a wonderful occasion.

Our music scholars enjoyed mingling with guests, including the Mayor of Reading Cllr Debs Edwards, Brit Award-winner Laura Marling (an Old Leightonian) and acclaimed Yamaha Woodwind Artist Lisa Nelson. Leighton Park is a Yamaha Flagship Music Education Partner, the only school in Europe to have this level of partnership, and James Sargeant, Institutional Business Manager for Yamaha, was there to help the School launch the sector-leading music and media facility, complete with a Yamaha Live Lounge recording studio. There are 27 music teachers at Leighton Park and over 50% of students study an instrument at the School.

An evening Gala Concert gave guests the opportunity to see talented students perform a wonderful cornucopia of pieces, ranging from Rachmaninov to Andrew Lloyd Weber. Director of Music, Rosemary Scales, orchestrated a real showcase of ability and depth. Leighton Park students were, in turn, inspired by a remarkable programme from internationally renowned flautist Lisa Nelsen, who played some highly intricate and moving pieces, ably accompanied by Emma Scammell.

Head of Leighton Park, Matthew Judd, said of the Gala Concert:

“The evening concert was a fantastic showcase of the musical talent that is nurtured by the School and it was lovely to see so many guests and members of the Leighton Park community in attendance.”

Former Leighton Park Voice teacher, Trevor Craddock commented:

“I am sure that the new building will prove to be a great asset to the school. Perhaps the greatest compliment I could add is that the Centre already has the air of having been there for a long period.”

The Michael Malnick Centre for music and media was designed by NVB architects and provides three stunning new music classrooms, seven additional music practice rooms, a Yamaha Live Lounge recording studio and a digital media studio. The digital media studio acts as a base for the School’s BTEC in Digital Media Production as well as several related co-curricular hobbies, including Film, TV and Animation club. The School’s commitment to media and film dates back nearly a century, with David Lean, an Oscar-winning Film Director, attending Leighton Park in the 1920s. Today, the School works in partnership with Pinewood Studios to ensure its teaching is in step with the requirements of industry.

The new centre is named after Michael Malnick, who attended Leighton Park from 1938 to 1944 and went on to be a respected actor, enjoying an illustrious career and touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is perhaps best known for ‘The Darwin Adventure’ (1972 ), ‘Ike: The War Years’ (1979), ‘The Far Pavilions’ (1984) and ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ (1984). Michael was a bursary holder at Leighton Park and bequeathed a very generous gift to the Leighton Park Bursary Fund on his death.

Explore our virtual tour of the new Michael Malnick Centre for music and media: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=NrQZPWGCW5m

Watch our talented musicians perform in the Yamaha Live Lounge recording studio: https://youtu.be/FT9NxyMBOK8?list=PLeW7DC9fZvTaHK7MKqqe_8fKwbTy3mMeg

See images from the official opening celebration: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmCpKVtf

Published: April 2 2019

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