LETTER: Tragedy that Nelson & Colne College’s music department to close

I had the privilege of attending a concert of instrumental and choral music given by Nelson and Colne College music department at Holy Trinity Church, Colne. It was a wonderful evening’s entertainment provided entirely by first and second year music students, and the standard of performance was uniformly high.

There were two stunning sopranos, Charlie Kane and Samantha Booth, singing music by Schumann, Donizetti and Hahn. Scott Harker played Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and Emma Peel played Ravel’s “Bolero”, both on saxophone. Stuart Sharples and Daniel Ruane gave us Jose Feliciano’s “Affirmation” on their guitars. Lucy Riding performed part of Mozart’s “Flute Concerto in D”.

After the interval, it was the turn of the college choir, conducted by music lecturer Neil Young. Again, the standard of singing was amazingly high for such young performers. If you closed your eyes, it wasn’t difficult to imagine you were listening to one of the great cathedral choirs - Westminster Abbey or King’s College, Cambridge. Perhaps I exaggerate just a little but, believe me, it was a great joy to hear these young voices making such beautiful sounds. Particularly moving were arrangements by Neil Young himself of “Amazing Grace” and Bruckner’s motet “Locus Iste”. It’s gratifying to realise these young people are already so familiar with such a wide variety of music types and styles.

All the more unbelievable, then, to learn this prestigious music department will cease to exist at the end of the next college year. We are told Government cuts make this necessary. Of course, we all know some economies are necessary, but surely they could be spread more evenly across the college.

Over the past 30 years, the music department at the college has built up a formidable reputation throughout the North West. It has brought added prestige and kudos to the college, as well as helping to stimulate the musical and cultural life of the area. To destroy it completely at a blow is totally unacceptable, the action of a short-sighted and blinkered management team. As the Rev. Tony Rindl said at the end of the concert: “Music is not just a luxury, it is a necessity in today’s chaotic world”.

Neighbouring colleges cannot easily provide the facilities that will be lost, especially as the Government has cancelled EMA grants that would have enabled students to travel further afield to study their chosen subject. Closure of the department will also inflict damage on musical education in secondary schools, where students will be less likely to take music if there is no possibility of continuing to higher levels.

Surely, it is not too late for a little sanity to be brought to bear on the situation. I call on the principal and her management team to think again and do all in their power to save this department which has contributed so much to the reputation of Nelson and Colne College.

NORMAN LOWE

Keighley Road, Colne