Saying farewell to Youth Music Director Christina Coker

Posted on July 13, 2012 by admin

Tabla member Rishii Chowdhury reports on his experience of playing with Akash Patel at Youth Music Director Christina Coker’s leaving ‘do’ at Southbank Centre 10.07.12

It was a great privilege to have performed at the farewell reception for Christina Coker OBE, Director of ‘Youth Music’ on Tuesday 10 July 2012 at the stunning Royal Festival Hall, Weston Roof Pavilion, London Southbank Centre.  The evening was wonderfully organised by the ‘Youth Music’ team, who invited young musicians from around the country who have been involved with ‘Youth Music’, to perform for this very special occasion.

The evening opened with a speech from Sir Richard Stilgoe OBE, Chair of Trustees for ‘Youth Music’. He spoke delightfully about Christina’s achievements and the wonderful qualities she brought to the organisation. However, Sir Richard actually ‘rapped’ his speech and I was asked to play a groove on the tabla! It was really unique, fun and very entertaining for the guests.

This was followed by other short speeches and Christina herself made an uplifting and inspirational speech about her thirteen years at ‘Youth Music’. Her passion for making music accessible and enriching really came through in her speech.  After she spoke, the new Executive Director Matt Griffiths thanked Christina for all her hard work and spoke about the next phase for ‘Youth Music’.

After the speeches, there were performances by young musicians who had been involved with ‘Youth Music’. It was very fitting that Christina introduced each of the performers. Akash Patel who was with SAMYO for 9 years played a lovely rendition of Raag Jhinjhoti on the sitar and I accompanied him on tabla.  It was an honour for us to have performed for such an occasion.

There were five acts in total and they were all special in their own way. You could see the fruit of the hard work, ‘Youth Music’ has put in throughout the years and the high standard of performers it has created.

What I really admired most about the evening, was the way in which Christina made the effort to welcome, connect with the musicians personally and hear their stories. This is a truly remarkable quality and it is no surprise she has had a positive impact on the overall success of ‘Youth Music’. Hearing Christina’s experiences made me very grateful for being a musician but also reminded us that, music can really empower human beings to a level unimaginable.

Youth Music is the principal funder of Samyo, The National Youth Music Orchestra for Indian Music.

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