☰ Festive Singing from Norfolk House School

Festive Singing from Norfolk House School

Posted on: December 12th 2014

This year is the 120th anniversary of Queenswood School, where we are lucky enough to hold our Sports Day. As part of their celebrations, Queenswood presented an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Disco style) and John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit choral work at the Barbican, on 3rd December. The event was rounded off with performances of three John Rutter Carols. Together with select children from 5 other Preparatory schools, nine of our finest singers successfully auditioned to perform with the Queenswood choir at the Barbican.

The singers worked really hard to learn the three John Rutter carols. Some of the children could read music, but none had sung from a SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone) score before, so as well as learning the soprano part, they also had to pick up some new music reading skills. They rehearsed in school for a few weeks, and even at home, singing along with The Kings College, Cambridge choir on Youtube for good measure. Then last Sunday evening, the children attended their first rehearsal with the Queenswood choir and the orchestra. The power and quality of the sound produced, compared to that of the nine of them singing together in a classroom was quite literally awesome and quite an amazing experience for our singers.

When the day of the performance at the Barbican arrived, the children were excited and maybe just a little nervous. The hard work of the afternoon rehearsal on so vast a stage, in front of so many (dauntingly soon to be filled) seats was tempered by the thrill of being backstage at such a prestigious venue and exploring the labyrinthine corridors leading to dressing rooms and BBC studios – not to mention the delight at the towering stack of steaming pizza boxes that was delivered to the choir children in their break before the performances.
The children thoroughly enjoyed their front row view of the Queenswood version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tilika said that it was the best play she’d ever seen! And Olivia and Marissa were amused to find that John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit contained a fabulously dramatic and rousing arrangement of When the Saints go Marching In – a song that they had arranged themselves in their year 5 music lessons.
After an impressively spirited rendition of the Queenswood School Song, the Preparatory School children filed onto the stage and joined the choir and orchestra in performing The Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, The Nativity Carol and The Star Carol as well as singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing with the whole audience. Our wonderful singers performed so professionally and delivered their parts exactly as they had been directed, but what was even more impressive and moving, was how much of themselves they put into their performances. They sang with such energy and passion, making the staff and their parents in the audience so incredibly proud of them. This was a fantastic opportunity, as Ms Habgood commented ‘Not many nine to eleven year olds can say that they have sung at the Barbican!’ and each of the children took that opportunity and made the very best of it that they could. Well done to Maria, Maria, Charlotte, Grace, Tilika, Finley, Eloise, Marissa and Olivia, you all thoroughly deserved the huge applause and cheers that rounded off a truly fantastic day!
Tuesday 2nd December saw the first festive event of the season when the choir walked to The Meadows, a local care home, to share some caroling. This is an annual event and as many of the staff there commented, the elderly residents really look forward to hearing the children sing. For the choir it was a great opportunity, especially for some of the singers performing their solos for the first time publicly; good preparation for our ‘Carols by Churchlight’ event, which you can read all about in Mrs Bolton’s article. And for the residents it was a chance to get into the Christmas spirit and join in with the singing. Wonderful Doris was in fine voice; knowing the words to all 13 carols performed. The soloists were suitably professional and sang their parts along with Doris. And, after a juice break and some well received chocolates, Doris repaid the choir by teaching them one of her favourite songs – You are my Sunshine.
Well done to the choir for their performances and their impeccable behaviour – they were extremely polite guests. 

By Sarah Crawford

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