THIS year the Brighton Centre has played host to some pretty big names including Madness, Ronan Keating, Bryan Adams and Little Mix.

But its most uplifting and inspiring show of 2016 was held last night when more than 1,200 talented youngsters brought a huge slice of Christmas cheer to the 4,500 seater venue.

The Schools Christmas Concert is the biggest event in Brighton and Hove City Council's music and arts calendar and this year, proud parents enjoyed a concert that was bigger than ever.

More than 1,200 young singers from schools across the city took part.

For the first time, the concert featured the new group Orchestra 360, an inclusive ensemble for children and young people with special educational needs, and disabilities.

Spectators also enjoyed original compositions by Downs View School pupils and a performance from the Brighton and Hove Youth Big Band.

The concert band also played an original composition from one of its players, year seven Varndean School pupil and clarinetist Aiden Bryson.

As well as an evening of fantastic performances, the evening was also an opportunity for Brighton and Hove music and arts to collect vital funds for Encore, a network which supports young musicians in the city.

Councillor Tom Bewick, Brighton and Hove City Council's children, young people and skills committee chairman, said: “The Schools Christmas Concert is one of the highlights of the festive season, bringing together 1,200 children from all over Brighton and Hove, including young people from more special schools than ever.

"This is a wonderful celebration of our city’s talented young singers and an evening full of Christmas cheer.”

Cllr Kevin Allen, music trust chairman, said: “This was a great evening of music and singing.”


MUCH of last night’s music came from a group with a difference: Orchestra 360.

The orchestra is made up of young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, their parents and siblings.

The group gave its first public performance at the Corn Exchange in March and since then has gone from strength to strength.

It all started at a series of taster workshops held in schools across the city – including Blatchington Mill, Downs Park, Downs View Link College and Hillside.

Pupils were invited to learn an instrument and to help create music with the group.

Artistic director James Redwood brought in a team of tutors and before long the group was performing original compositions.

The orchestra is the first of its kind in the city and is looking to grow.

One of its founding principles is that young people are free to choose which instrument they want to play.

While this can lead to some unusual musical combinations, it is also seen as a source of inspiration to the creative team.

For more details and to get involved, email