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Students organise big farewell gig for music teacher

By Gary Lawrence

STUDENTS PAST AND PRESENT from St Vincent College will join together this weekend to give popular music teacher Chris Harris an emotional farewell with a large-scale gig; which will be held at Quay Street Studios in Gosport on June 15 (Saturday).

This occasion has been called “The End Of An Era Showcase” and is being organised by Year 1 music students in honour of Mr Harris, who is leaving the college after ten years to pursue a new job in Gibraltar. He will start this role in September on the Mediterranean island, which involves teaching music at a private school alongside continuing to record his own music.

But he leaves behind a positive legacy for students at St Vincent College with many progressing into successful music careers as a result of his mentoring. And this weekend will provide a chance to catch up / perform with many former students who are likely to perform throughout the event; whilst Chris is scheduled to perform alongside songwriter / singer Erin Newman after she studied at Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.

Mr Harries spoke about this upcoming occasion: “It’ll be a real mix of emotions for me because I’m obviously sad about leaving the college after such a long time there but the students are working really hard to put the show together and give me a good little send-off.”

“They have been booking bands, running the promotion, and getting everything in order so I am really touched and thankful to them. They are also doing it as a project for next year’s course, which will give them a head start.”

He continued to speak about his former students: “It’ll be great to see people play who I haven’t seen strum a chord in years. “Many of them are now professional musicians who make their living going out and performing.  Among those playing will be Tom Davies and The Bluebirds, Jimmy B and the Death Rattles; whose guitarist is our former student Aneurin Graystock and they are signed to a label.”

“We’ve also got a group of people who we call the Covid collective – all students who I taught online during lockdown. I’ve asked the students to organise the event like Jools Holland’s Later TV show, so we’ll have lots of artists giving their best one or two tunes, so it’s a nice mix and we’ll have constant music.”

During his time at the college, Chris has used his contacts to help secure slots for students to play at local festivals / gigs including Victorious in Portsmouth and the Wickham Festival. This has seen them play on the same stage as iconic bands such as Levellers, The Waterboys and 10cc. He said: “We’ve played many times at Wickham and always have a blast. But to play on both main stages across the full weekend was something really special and a highlight of my teaching career.”

Mr Harris was furthermore honoured for his contribution to music in the area by former Gosport Mayor Jamie Hutchinson in 2022, where he was given a “Gosport 100 Award” as the borough celebrated its centenary. The teacher said: “It was a boost for me but the students were really quite happy about it too. It’s been lovely to be able to tell prospective parents and students at open evenings that we’ve been recognised for what we do by the mayor.”

He concluded that the gig would be a fitting way to end a decade working at the college, saying: “It’s going to be great to see so many people I’ve taught and seen develop, many of them have moved to different areas, so it’s just brilliant to hear about all the success that they’re having.”

“The fact that they’re taking the time to get together, re-learn some old songs and go out of their way to play is really nice. Just the fact that they’d want to come to the show is amazing. I’m looking forward to getting a picture of everyone together at the end. That will be something nice to keep and look back on.”

The End Of An Era Showcase runs from 4pm to 10.30pm at the studios in the former Saint John’s Church, with tickets priced as being as £5 if brought in advance and £8 on the door. They can be purchased via Eventbrite via this online link; whilst the full address is: 133-141 Forton Road, Gosport, PO12 4TQ.

PICTURED BY ST VINCENT COLLEGE: Departing music teacher poses with a trophy won in 2022 at the Solent Sound band competition.