It is the natural home to superstars and entertainment legends from around the planet – but once a year Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena instead becomes the pupils’ palace.
This week, about 24,000 youngsters over four nights will pack on to the famous stage as the Young Voices concerts come to town, now in their 17th year,
Children from all over the region are taking part, relishing the chance to take to the stage in a packed two-hour show with The X Factor star Stacey Solomon.
Schools from across South Yorkshire were heavily represented on the first night of the event, in which a packed audience of families and friends enjoyed music from many genres.
Ben Lewis, Young Voices’ managing director, said the arena in Attercliffe was an incredible venue and was always one of the first on the tour schedule. He said: “The children know this is where all the biggest stars play and yet here is their chance to be in the spotlight.
“They are the stars of this show. With packed houses, the atmosphere and excitement generated in Sheffield is very special.”
Highlights this year included a full-blooded rendition of Bon Jovi anthem Livin’ On A Prayer, while a teachers’ choir formed from the schools involved led the children through the African Sanctus version of The Lord’s Prayer.
Stacey performed a selection of songs from her forthcoming debut album and joined the youngsters on the Dusty Springfield classic Son of a Preacher Man.
Ben said schools had been rehearsing for the shows in music lessons since September, and had put in a huge amount of hard work.
He said: “There have to be very careful preparations to make sure a show with 7,000 children runs smoothly every night, and we feature so many different styles including rock, pop, folk, gospel and classical.It’s important to us and to the teachers to expose the children to so many varied genres, which this year also includes a great street dance team.
“The thinking behind Young Voices is every pupil should be exposed to music at an early age, and whether the joy is singing, playing an instrument or just loving the sound of music, the potential benefits are huge.
Shows this year are also taking place in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
n See The Star’s People supplement on Monday for more pictures from Young Voices.