Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Vaughan's singing past.

Some wonderful photos have been unearthed of the Vaughan's musicians from many years ago as, with the Vaughan's Centenary year about to begin, we have been working through the School's archives.


For its first twenty or so years the Vaughan appears to have had very little music-making going on other than congregational singing. The boys were certainly familiar with the sadly now largely forgotten Catholic chants. It is said, for example, that as the School left for Windsor on the day of the evacuation in September 1939 at the start of the Second World War they sang the Veni, Creator Spiritus, alternating with the popular songs of the day – ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Marching through Georgia’.


In 1935 a Music Society was founded by the older pupils and in 1937 there was reference in the Vaughan magazine to “the new choir”. Around this time Ferdinand Laloux was appointed to lead the singing, the School’s first music teacher. When he worked at the Vaughan he was also recognised as a distinguished composer of church music and Director of Music at Farm Street Jesuit Church and later at the Sacred Heart in Wimbledon. The Schola is to sing some of Laloux's music this coming anniversary year.

Under the regrettably short headship of Monsignor Butcher (1948-1952) music, along with the other arts, seems to have begun to flourish. The singing at Mass and Benediction was said to be much improved and when distinguished violist Bernard Shore visited the School in 1950 to give a recital he commented on the “beautiful tone” of the School Choir and suggested that they should soon tackle music in four parts. The choir was directed by Mr Frank Handyside, who taught chemistry but who had a great love for the arts and encouraged the boys to develop their choral skills. 

This picture taken in 1953 shows the School Choir sat on the steps of Addison Hall, with their teacher, Mr Handyside. 

And this picture, taken a few years later in 1956, shows the choir performing at the School's Speech Day. 



Later, led by Fr David Konstant and then Vaughan Headmaster Anthony Pellegrini, the choir would begin to tackle the major choral repertoire, singing Bach’s The John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Faure’s Requiem in concerts that were increasingly ambitious. During the late 1970s and 1980s these concert performances were recorded and released as LPs on sale to parents. 


In 1980 Anthony Pellegrini, by then Headmaster, founded the Schola Cantourm, a liturgical choir to provide music for the School’s liturgies. Mr Pellegrini was very ambitious for the Schola from the very beginning and the choir toured extensively and sang often around London. On a famous occasion in 1984 the Schola sang for His Holiness John Paul II in St Peter’s Square, the Pope congratulating the boys on their Latin. 

 

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