Former chair of FECA, Eileen Wilson, presented David Aston with a cheque for £1,000 towards the beautiful, glossy new Kawai piano bought for Cottenham Primary School by the enterprising Parent, Teacher and Community Association (PTCA).
“The old piano,” said music director Mr Aston, “no longer functioned and the new one is an inspiration.”
The PTCA, a member of FECA, received the contribution after raising £4,000 through a wide variety of activities and grants from other bodies such as Cottenham Parish Council, South Cambs District Council, Cottenham British School Trust and the EMI Sound Foundation. The piano made its first public appearance at the end-of-term summer music concert in July before an audience of invited parents and friends.
Cottenham Primary School end-of-term summer music concert
The first part of the entertainment featured three Year 5 classes playing brightly coloured ukuleles. The school was able to obtain the instruments for the weekly lessons through FECA which allocated profits from the 2015 Cottenham Fun Run to this worthwhile undertaking.
All Year 5 pupils learn about the instrument and reading music under the direction of Helen West and Barbara Duckworth. At the concert the group of boys and girls played two pieces they had learnt and two they had composed themselves: about Egypt and Africa. You can hear one of them here: all received resounding applause.
Then came thirteen enthusiastic young pianists, aged from 7 to 11, offering a wide range of music, from a James Bond Theme to Beethoven, Haydn, John Williams and Grieg. The new piano did them proud.
After the interval, it was the turn of the school choir under the direction of Mr Aston, accompanied on the piano by Mrs Duckworth, who is Chair of Governors at the school, her daughter Georgia, a former pupil, on flute, and Mr Kilsby, Headteacher, on percussion.
“There can’t be many schools,” said Mr Aston, “where the Chair of Governors and Headteacher are not only incredibly supportive but also very talented and willing to play too.” And the piano, which is described as ‘enhanced’ because it can provide other instruments’ sounds as well, came into its own under the skilled hands of Mrs Duckworth.
Cottenham Primary School choir
The choir selection – a delightful dozen – included a tribute to the late David Bowie (Star Man) and Lionel Bart (Consider Yourself, from Oliver) as well as About You, a short piece composed by choir member and pupil Malachi Hall. The finale was As Long As I Have Music, a fine choice Mr Kilsby told the audience as it summed up the contribution Mr Aston made to the school and the opportunity he provided for the children in coming together as a choir. Mr Aston, who in September takes up the post of deputy Headteacher at Ely St John’s Primary School, was “an exceptional member of Cottenham Primary School”, said Mr Kilsby.
During his eight years at Cottenham Primary School, he took the choir to sing in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, took part in Cottenham Theatre Workshop productions at the Village College (on stage as well as in the orchestra) and last year galvanised the school to do ‘The Tour de Cottenham’ when all the pupils cycled round the village, to the cheers of the community. He will be missed, but he will also be remembered, his legacy encapsulated by the last lines of Don Besig’s song: “As long as there’s a song for me to sing/ Music in my life will set my spirits free”.