Chapel Choir Voices of Woodard Weekend
Last weekend, 15 intrepid members of our Chapel Choir set off with Mr Brain and Mrs Mason for The Voices of Woodard Weekend hosted by Ellesmere College and led by the Senior Provost, Revd Justin White.
Bringing together 120 students and 15 staff from across 6 Woodard Schools, the aim was to immerse students in the music associated with the services of Evensong and Eucharist, allow the students to build on their vocal skills, and to have the opportunity to meet peers with similar musical interests. The repertoire selected for the weekend was a mix of works known and new to the pupils.
Alongside The Peterborough School students, pupils from Ellesmere College, Sir Robert Woodard Academy in West Sussex, Worksop College in Nottinghamshire, Crompton House Church of England School in Oldham, and Queen Mary’s School in North Yorkshire formed the massed choir directed by the Ellesmere Director of Music, Mr Coupe.
We started our rehearsals quickly on the Friday afternoon with a run through of Mozart’s Ave Verum, the new choir finding their feet quickly. From this point the group started to warm to the challenge, producing some wonderful sounds and showing great team skills. Mr Brain led a sectional rehearsal of 90 sopranos and altos during the afternoon as well.
On Friday evening we moved to our accommodation at The Quinta in Gobowen for a BBQ and Ceileidh where the students got to know one another and embraced the dancing with energy and enthusiasm. Most of the TPS pupils found their dancing feet and even persuaded Mr Brain to channel his inner Strictly Come Dancing! It was a brilliant evening and a delightful way to allow the pupils to get to know each other.
Rehearsing through Saturday we travelled to Shrewsbury Abbey to sing Choral Evensong. The Abbey’s foundations date back to 1083. Our guest of honour was the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Mandy Thorn, and the Ellesmere College Chaplain, Revd Phillip Gration, gave a sermon on lions based on the story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den. Singing a range of music including responses by Anthony Coupe, canticles by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and a brilliant performance of ‘The Heavens Are Telling’ from F J Haydn’s ‘Creation’ as the anthem, the choir completed their first performance challenge.
In the evening we took part in the Fr Justin’s ‘Fiendish Quiz’ back at the Quinta which was enjoyed by all. It turned out the ability to read maps upside down was particularly essential for this quiz! On Sunday morning, it felt like everyone, staff and students had become a proper family as we embarked on our final challenge, learning and performing the music for Eucharist. The centrepiece of the morning’s service was another performance of Haydn’s ‘The Heavens are Telling’ and our own TPS pupils formed the solo vocal group with Harriet Miller, Emma Clay, Daniel Lindus and Mr Brain (who was an honorary member of Sixth Form for the weekend it appears!). Harriet also read the first lesson with excellent clarity.
The staff and students were unanimous in their enjoyment of the weekend. It is always rewarding to join forces with other schools in the Woodard group and the pupils are already asking about the next Choir trip!
Mr Brain (Head of Music, The Peterborough School)
Mr A Coupe (Director of Music, Ellesmere College)