Three students from Villiers High School won last year’s Alice Gross Memorial Song Writing Award, topping the list of talented entrants with their song ‘Find a Way’.

The award was established in 2017 by Ealing Music Service to honour Alice Gross, a promising musician and songwriter who attended Brentside High School and tragically lost her life in September 2014. 

‘Find A Way’ is a collaboration between Isabella Ahmed, Ardhana Sherin, and Crossly Lucas who worked together to write the lyrics, melody, harmonies and piano accompaniment. It is sung by Isabella and Ardhana and accompanied by Crossly on the piano. Listen to the winning track below!

Feedback from the judges was very positive indeed. A selection of their comments included:

“This is a very strong song … well-crafted and beautifully executed in terms of form, structure, dynamics and texture … the vocal line is engaging from the very first line … the piano counter melodies and riffs work beautifully with the vocals … the song is intriguing, making the listener want to play to it over and over to think about every lyric and follow the unpredictable shape of the melodyI could see this song very at home amongst contemporary chart-toppers.” 

Due to Covid 19 and the resulting lockdown, Isabella, Ardhana and Crossly were unable to receive their award or take advantage of their prize (a fabulous opportunity to produce a professional and digitally mastered version of their winning song at British Grove Studios). With restrictions lifting, however, a presentation ceremony will take place at Villiers High School on Thursday 27th May at 4.30pm. 

Susan Krenca, Head of Music at Villiers High School, is full of praise for the students:

“We are immensely proud of our young musicians. They have a passion for performing and composing music, and this award is richly deserved. They are a credit to the school.”  – Susan Krenca

In a commentary about the song, Isabella stated: “The song explores the dilemma of being in a toxic relationship. It’s about all the time and effort invested in the relationship and the helplessness of being unable to leave, even though it’s not right to stay. The song as a whole shows the transition from being in this dilemma to realising that sometimes, doing the right thing is doing the thing that hurts the most.

Ardhana added: “Initially, we didn’t take writing the song too seriously; for us, it was just a way to spend time together improvising and learning from each other’s’ musical skills. But as we continued to write more of the song and develop it further, we realised that the meaning and lyrics had a more personal and introspective meaning than we originally intended”.

During their music GCSE lessons, pupils had been composing using music software, layering instrumentation and enhancing their music with effects and drum tracks. Crossly said: “For us, this was a new way of composing – at the piano, with only ourselves to rely upon. The piano accompaniment was fairly simple to begin with, but I had been learning to develop my improvisational skills during my piano lessons. This enabled me to create a more complex and interesting piano part, which was crucial, especially in the climax of the song”.

Samantha Spence, Assistant Head of Ealing Music Service, said: 

“Alice will always be remembered, and this award offers talented songwriters the opportunity to share their songs and memories through something that she really loved doing. I am always so impressed when I visit schools and see how many talented pupils there are and the music they have written. This is an ideal platform to share their music with others. Well done to Isabella, Ardhana and Crossly. The song is beautiful, and their win is fully deserved”. – Samantha Spence

GET INVOLVED!

The application process for the next award opens on 17th May 2021. Please visit the EMS Awards webpage for more details.

Alice’s family have also set up Alice’s Youth Music Memorial Fund in support of the National Foundation for Youth Music to enable disadvantaged young musicians and singers to follow their musical passions. For more information visit the Alice Gross Memorial Fund website.