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Twin Schools in Concert

Pupils from Xinghai and Wells Cathedral schools perform together

Five pupils from one of China's top music schools are visting their twin school in Somerset this week.

Wells Cathedral School - an independent music school attached to the Cathedral at Wells in Somerset - has been providing music education for more than a thousand years.

Teachers from Wells Cathedral and Xinghai Music schools

The partnership with Xinghai Music School in Guangzhou, China, gives Well's music a new direction.

Wells Deputy Head Nigel Walkey says, "The passion for music making at Wells has intensified and the awareness of music as a global human activity has broadened the musical ambition and knowledge of our students."

Pupil from Xinghai music school plays Chinese flute

Visiting pupils play a range of different instruments from both western and Chinese traditions.  Cello, piano and violin are joined by the Chinese Flute and the Erhu - a Chinese two-stringed fiddle.  

Cellist Peiyao, age 17, is enjoying the opportunity to experience the European tradition first hand.  "Being in England has helped my music," he says.  "I have learnt a lot about chamber music here  – it is the tradition of English music playing.  I hope to study music in England at the Royal Academy of Music in London when I leave my school in Guangzhou."
Music making is the backbone of the school visit - with concerts in Somerset and at the British Council in London. The London concert has been covered by the BBC World Service Chinese team.

Sixteen year old Tansy from Wells played the violin at the British Council concert. "It was a really fun day with the other musicians and getting to know the Chinese music students. Trying a little Mandarin helped us establish a relationship," she said.

Tansy says the Chinese partnership has made her more interested in non-western music. And it's also made friends. "Music," she says, "is a real bond between us."

How did they do that?

Wells Cathedral School and Xinghai School at the Music Conservatory are linking via the British Council managed scheme with funding from the DCSF.

Their partnership started three years ago. Last year, pupils and staff from Wells spent a fortnight at Xinghai Conservatory in Guangzhou. This year, Xinghai staff and pupils are visiting Somerset.

Read more at the bilingual BBC China website in Mandarin - the second audio clip from Wells Cathedral School Deputy Head Nigel Walkey is in English.

BBC Radio Somerset also covered a local concert and will be sharing the story with Somerset audiences on March 11.

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