What a way to celebrate 25 years in music education! We celebrated our 25th year in music education this summer with a full 12 hour programme of events, showcasing the strengths of the Academy of Music & Sound in Exeter. This was the very best of AMS past a present presented in the context of the contemporary music scene. 2019 – year that commemorates 25 years of the organisation as a whole, and 15 years in Exeter.

The day started with a panel discussion on many areas of the current music industry. The panel consisted of Kate Graham from Soundlaunch, an Arts Council funded music initiative in Exeter, Exeter Street Arts and OxJam rep Becky Grinham who also spoke about Tour Management and Journalism. Also present was Glasdenbury Festival founder Emma Twamley, up-and-coming singer songwriter Sadie Horler, producer, composer, studio owner John Waddell, and studio technician, producer and artist Ben Green, who chaired the discussion,

The discussion was broad and insightful, with many areas of the contemporary music industry covered, discussed and interrogated. The panel discussed with great energy over a two hour session, live performance and potential monetisation of creative output, as well as how to sustain a creative career. The talks were attended by local students and musicians alike, insights were shared and experiences of how diverse the industry can be were laid bare in what was a very frank and honest appraisal of where we are in the music industry in 2019. Those that attended will have gained an insight into what it takes to be successful within the music sector in 2019, and indeed how that very success can be measured in real world contexts. New relationships were formed between panelists, and those that attended.

Moving further into the afternoon the focus shifted to live performance. Students from the Exeter centre Level 3 Diploma performed as duos or soloists in the café bar. The sense of comradery was there for all to see, as friends sang along with each others songs, and encouraged all those that were performing. Outside on the deck some of the Foundation Degree production students were performing dance and DJ sets in the sun, and helping to set the scene for the evenings’ performers to take to the main stage.

The main stage music event kicked off at 6.30 with students from the Exeter Rock Club playing a 30 minute set. The Rock Club operates from the Exeter Academy of Music & Sound on a Saturday morning each week in term time. Students aged between 12 and 16 were given the opportunity to play the main stage, full lights, PA and smoke machines added to their experience and some very tidy covers opened the main stage.

Next up were the Music Diploma students. The groups made seamless changeovers between acts (using two drum kits) laying out a diverse set of soul, funk, reggae and rock. There was a wonderful mixture of female and male talent working together as a team to provide 45 minutes of thoroughly engaging music with excellent crowd interaction and superb standards of singing and playing. There were so many highlights, but the dual guitar solos in ‘Hotel California’ and incredibly convincing vocal work on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ really stood out. They all excelled and we’re so excited to see what they do next. Many of these students are going on to study at Foundation or BA level with us.

First Person then took to the stage for their set of original songs mixing grunge, rock and occasional reggae with flair and style. They are a stylish outfit, with an eclectic set of original songs. The members are from the Foundation Degree and BA Top-up courses – they also played on the One Big Showcase at Bearded Theory 2019.

The Quinces were on at 2100, with frontman Robbin Hann having graduated from the BA (hons) course last year. A rowdy garage band from Torbay, playing plenty of festivals this summer with their brand of orignial indie rock. The main stage was now well and truly jumping with the energy these guys bring to their performances.

The finale was a set from Patter Pusher. First in their regular lineup of drums, bass/guitar, keyboard and vocals, and then as a super group with added Academy of Music & Sound alumni for the finale.

Patter Pusher are developing quite a following, and their brand of catchy synth pop and rock got the audience at the Phoenix jumping shortly after 2145. The band has a great energy, an infectious desire to please those watching, and this comes across in swathes to all those watching. There are many smiles at a Patter Pusher performance, from the guys in the band to all of those watching and even their tech!

After 30 minutes of original material the regular trio of Ben Green, Alex Johnstone and Ben Connibear were joined by AMS alumni Dan Cosgrove on bass, Becky Grinham on vocals, Rohan Knowles on guitar and Tom White on percussion. The now larger band had an understandably fuller sound, and this ramped the party atmosphere up several notches! By the time Exeter centre manager Laura Wright joined the party for the finale with her tenor sax the audience were putty in their hands.

The grooves and moves were plentiful and the professionalism and outpouring of great vibes were there for all to see.

Here’s to another 25 years!

View all the photos from the event here: