Skip to content

Hackney schoolchildren perform at annual Tower of London arts festival

Benthal students (wearing purple) perform with pupils from across London.
Photograph: Historic Royal Palaces

Budding musicians from a primary school in Hackney put on a special performance at the Tower of London for the iconic landmark’s annual arts festival.

Children from Benthal Primary School in Hackney Downs were invited to the famous fortress to sing at Water City Music 2019, which took place last week.

Inspired by the place’s history, they performed both existing pieces and their own compositions for an audience of tourists and Beefeaters – as the Tower’s legendary ravens watched on.

The festival is organised by Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the Tower, in partnership with charity Water City Music.

It is intended to help pupils across London build their confidence as performers in iconic surroundings and with a unique audience.

This year saw over 1,000 primary and secondary school students treat visitors to an eclectic mix of styles including jazz and funk-rock.

Lucie Parkes, learning manager at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Music is a powerful tool to breathe life into historical figures and events, making it feel relevant for today’s young people. 

“Despite being so local, many of the students who performed at the event have never visited the Tower before.”

Parkes says the festival is a “brilliant” way to connect children to both their local community and to their home city’s past.

She added: “Many of the schools taking part come from London boroughs where the child poverty rate is amongst the highest in the country and so, ultimately, we hope the event has a lasting effect on pupil’s self-confidence, sense of belonging and motivation to practice and perform music.”

For more information about Water City Music at the Tower, head to

Real news stories don't come cheap.

The Hackney Citizen is the borough’s only independent newspaper, and is now in its tenth year.

Our hard-hitting journalism has uncovered fire safety failures in tower blocks, revealed plans to criminalise rough sleepers, exposed dodgy letting agents and reported on many other issues of public concern.

We’ve always been totally free in print and online, but advertising revenues are falling.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

Hackney Citizen’s high quality journalism is produced by a small team on a shoestring budget, so we’re asking you to make a monthly contribution to fund our work, enabling the paper to survive and thrive.

Support the Hackney Citizen from as little as £2 per month.

Can you spare £4 a month or more? Get the paper delivered direct to your door each month! (UK only)