Twenty-one current and future Olavians, spanning the age range from Year 6 right through to Year 13, took part in an inter-school choral workshop and performance in Birmingham’s prestigious Symphony Hall. The event, put together by our colleagues at Woodard Schools, was a year in the planning, designed to bring together singers from across the schools in the partnership. There were over 700 students participating – an impressive experience for all involved. Renowned singer and ambassador for choral singing Dominic Peckham directed the day’s musical activities. He opened with a physical rhythmic warm-up, using no words at all. It was very impressive how he managed to achieve a universal response from the students without any spoken commands.
Many of the represented schools had prepared two anthems – Vaughan Williams’ Let all the world in every corner sing and Rutter’s Gaelic Blessing – to sing as part of the programme. Dominic’s work during the day unified the massed singers to deliver exciting and uplifting performances of the two works. The remainder of the programme included a set of folk-song arrangements, which Dominic titled Circle Songs. These were put together in master class sessions, each one offering invaluable training and developing confidence in the participants. Two of our own number – Ben and Richard – were specially chosen to contribute individually to the performances of two of the Circle Songs.
The concert, given to parents of the participants, was a consolidation of all of the work invested in what was quite a long and physically demanding day of singing for everyone. Between each item, Dominic addressed the audience, speaking eloquently about the value of community, of making music and especially of singing together. He even managed to include the spectators in a medley he had put together for the event! He urged the students to give their all, hold nothing back and celebrate what had been achieved, not just for their own benefit, but in the name of those children across the country who do not have access to such outstanding opportunities.
Clearly the value of singing reaches much further than the musical benefits it offers. Our students were part of something big that day; hopefully that experience will last with them for years to come and they will all themselves continue to be ambassadors for music-making in their own communities.