A UNIQUE cross-cultural project involving more than 350 primary school children from across Hampshire and Surrey culminated in a special night at the Princes Hall in Aldershot on July 1.

The youngsters have been developing their music skills through working with Cameroonian musician and storyteller Noah Messomo.

Over the past 18 months the children have been attending lessons and workshops at Aldershot's West End Centre to learn to play African instruments.

They have also learnt singing, dancing and telling stories about the lives of children their own age from the Beti people of Cameroon's tropical forest region.

The Beti's music is characterised by driving rhythms and improvised melodies played on instruments such as the balafon (a type of xylophone) and mvet (a primitive, raffia-made guitar), and accompanied by an exuberant dance to pass on moral tales or celebrate successful hunts and harvests.

West End Centre director James Barry said of the performance: "It went really well.

"We had lots of parents there and the mayor, Cllr Jupp.

"The performance used Beti storytelling techniques and music to tell the story of life in the village so it started with birdsong and the sounds of the morning, through all the jobs of the day to the evening."

Mr Barry added: "I think it is good for them to learn about a culture that none of us really know a lot about.

"Noah's been a real hit with the children and it's helped us build relationships with the schools involved."

St Mark's and St Michael's primary schools in Aldershot, and Hale Primary in Farnham, were among nine schools which benefited from a grant of £39,630, from the National Foundation for Youth Music, to Hampshire County Council's Arts Office to fund the project.

Our picture shows youngsters performing on African instruments with Noah Messomo.