Derry welcomes Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum pictured with pupils from St Mary's College at a Music masterclass earlier this week. Photo: Stephen Latimer
Jamie Cullum pictured with pupils from St Mary's College at a Music masterclass earlier this week. Photo: Stephen Latimer

It’s not everyday a musical superstar pops into a school to make sweet-sweet music with pupils - but this week Jamie Cullum did just that in Derry!

The jazz-pop hunk spent a morning with staff and pupils of St Mary’s College on Tuesday while in the city recording for Jamie’s three-part series ‘Piano Pilgrimage’ for BBC Radio 4.

Not only did the St Mary’s School Choir perform for the BBC show, Jamie then gave an impromptu performance to the delight of all those around him.

St Mary’s College principal, Marie Lindsay, was particularly impressed with Jamie Cullum’s demeanour and approachability.

“He was probably the most down-to-earth star I have ever met,” Ms Lindsay said.

“He was so good with all the girls, talking to them, inspiring them and encouraging them to pursue their musical talents. And when he played and sang with our choir, it was magical, totally improvised and totally unbelievable.

“He was very, very impressed with our school choir and he was so energised, playing ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ and personalising it just for St Mary’s! It was sensational to watch.

Ms Lindsay also praised the show’s producer, Ian Parkinson, who was responsible for organising the whole event, “Ian was just fantastic”.

16 year-old pupil Edel Bowen from Bracken Park was the first pupil to perform for Jamie Cullum at St Mary’s College and she gushed about his talent and charisma.

“It was nerve-wracking at first but everything went great. It was such an experience! He has been such an inspiration to everybody. I love music and this was just one of the best opportunities ever - I’m so proud I had the chance to play for him.”

Meeting Jamie Cullum will have a lasting impression on Edel, who insists she will relax more and trust in the music.

“When we spoke, he said that music scared him and that he plays by ear, learning from memory. I’m totally different in that I need to see the music in front of me and the grades - so now after meeting him I think I’ll try to be more like that and use my instinct more, try to think outside the box.”

Since Jamie Cullum’s visit, pupils at the school have spoken of a surge in motivation and creative passion. Who knows - one day, it could be them spreading a little musical happiness in schools themselves!