Havering Music School has a proud tradition of producing young talent. Many HMS students progress to study music at university or in the country’s leading conservatoires. Former students include violinist Madeleine Mitchell and Grammy-nominated conductor Paul McCreesh.

Past members of Saturday Music Centre and Weekday Music Centre are encouraged to keep in contact with Havering Music School. The alumni group has more than 100 members with an active Facebook forum.

Student profile: Kim Sergiou

I began learning the clarinet at primary school when I was eight years-old. I was taught by a teacher provided by Havering Music School. After a year or so, I joined Saturday Music School and became part of the Junior Wind Band.

By secondary school, I had passed my Grade 3 and chosen alto saxophone as a second instrument, taking lessons during school time from HMS teachers.

As I progressed through the grades I was given the opportunity to play in the Youth Orchestra. We played at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank and had workshops with the London Symphony Orchestra to learn an adapted version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. I later joined the Havering Soul Project on alto saxophone, and enjoyed playing soul and Motown hits, which was a completely new style of music for me.

By the time I was 18, I was Grade 8 on clarinet and Grade 7 on saxophone. Since leaving Havering Music School, I have completed a degree in Music from City University. I now teach clarinet privately and am a member of the South London Concert Band. In September I will start a PGCE course in Primary Education with a specialism in Music. HMS even provided a reference for my application, even though I left more than five years ago.

Without HMS and the opportunity to learn an instrument at primary school, there’s a very high chance I would never have learnt an instrument at all, and I wouldn’t have had such an enjoyable childhood and made so many friends.

Student profile: James McCarthy


James McCarthy’s most high profile works to date are the oratorios 17 Days and Codebreaker. 17 Days, commissioned by Crouch End Festival Chorus, was inspired by the Chilean mining accident of 2010. It was premiered at Barbican Hall, London, in February 2012 and received a standing ovation.

It has since been performed again at the Barbican, in Wellington, New Zealand (and broadcast live on Radio New Zealand), and at Sage Gateshead.

Of the 2012 premiere The Independent said,
‘the overall effect was remarkably engaging: plenty of interest all the way through with lovely word setting which built, in an organic and integrated way, to a genuinely moving climax.’

Codebreaker was premiered in April this year at the Barbican by Hertfordshire Chorus – who commissioned the work – with David Temple conducting. It tells the story of the life and tragic death of Alan Turing.

Reviewing the concert, Rosie Pentreath for BBC Music Magazine wrote, ‘a deeply moving work that showcases the composer’s ability to craft sumptuous melodies and build powerful climaxes with a full chorus and orchestra…this was a powerful concert that will stay with me for quite some time.’

James studied composition at Royal Holloway, University of London with Simon Holt, and has received commissions from numerous ensembles, including Crouch End Festival Chorus, Hertfordshire Chorus, Scottish Opera and Canty.

His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC London 94.9, Radio New Zealand and RTÉ Lyric FM.