Members of the Somerville College Choir answered questions from Delhi school pupils and shared songs with a class from education charity Magic Bus during their recent tour to India.

Founded in Mumbai in 1999, Magic Bus works with young people across the country who live in poverty. Children from the poorest backgrounds can often miss out entirely on secondary education, not to mention the extracurricular opportunities and skills that come alongside it. Magic Bus seeks to alleviate this by using its education centres to transform childhoods full of challenges into meaningful livelihoods with free schooling and vocational training.

During their session with Magic Bus at their centre in New Delhi, five different members of the choir, together with our Director of Chapel Music Will Dawes, took turns to lead the children through songs and  conjure the magic of making music with your friends, as well as developing their rhythm and ensemble skills. The sense of togetherness extended from the music to its participants, resulting in contagious smiles all round. After a final performance, there was an instant rush for a celebratory selfie, which you can find below in our gallery!

On the same day, a panel of seven members from the choir also took the stage at the British Council in Delhi, answering questions from over two hundred pupils from local schools in a standing room-only auditorium. The children were bursting with questions, covering topics such as what scholarships are available for Indians at Oxford, what the university is really looking for in its admissions process, and what it’s like to be part of the Indian community at Oxford. Our students put the audience’s minds to rest, reassuring them all that there is funding available for Indians who face financial barriers attending Oxford, such as at our Oxford India Centre (including our groundbreaking new scholarship for those from historically marginalised backgrounds, including Dalit and Adivasi students and first generation learners), and that Somerville is a place that can be a home for anyone.

“Our visit to Magic Bus was one of the biggest highlights of the tour for us,” said Will Dawes.

“It’s so exciting to be here in India, and we feel very privileged to be performing in some of the country’s most prestigious venues – but the chance to connect through music and be a small part of the vital work taking place to support disadvantaged learners in Delhi is even more exciting.

“We hope we were able to inspire the children as much as they inspired us.”

After performances in Bom Jesu church in Goa and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, the choir return home on December 16th.

Somerville Choir and the Magic Bus Foundation

Photos by Jack Evans

Student Q&A For The British Council’s Linked Schools

Photos by Ella Machtynger

Further reading?

Birthday Honours for Alison Wolf, Suzanne Heywood, Rajesh Thakker and Susie Dent

Learn More
19 June 2024
Birthday Honours for Alison Wolf, Suzanne Heywood, Rajesh Thakker and Susie Dent

Active Kindness: Meet the Somervillian Who Saved Thousands from the Nazis

Learn More
14 June 2024
Active Kindness: Meet the Somervillian Who Saved Thousands from the Nazis

Somerville Student Stars in Gregory Doran’s Gentlemen of Verona

Learn More
13 June 2024
Somerville Student Stars in Gregory Doran’s Gentlemen of Verona