Sunday, December 29, 2013

Events at the end of Term

The last few weeks of the Michaelmas Term were busy as always with the Department working flat out right up to the start of the holidays.

The 2nd of December saw the VCYM Concert marking the end of term for the Vaughan's junior music school. The sixty or so boys who attend each performed a short solo and the concert closed with some lovely singing from all, skillfully led by Miss Rozario.

The following evening we held a Junior Concert for the main School with the younger pupils performing in various ensembles and also some strong solo playing.

On Friday 6 December the Vaughan held its annual party for local senior citizens and the Schola trebles followed by the Big Band once again provided the entertainment.

This weekend was memorable however as it saw the publication in The Financial Times of a carol newly composed by Fifth Form pupil Thomas Fetherstonhaugh. The carol had previously been recorded and filmed by the Schola and the video appeared on the Financial Times website - it can be seen HERE.

The Financial Times printed Tom's Carol in full in the newspaper as well as advertising the event all across the country, including on the giant screens in Westfield!

The following Monday (9 December) Thomas appeared on BBC Radio 3's flagship programme In Tune to discuss his carol with presenter Sean Rafferty. A recording of the Schola singing the carol was played, as was a track from the Schola's latest CD. Sean Rafferty was fulsome in his praise of Tom, his carol and 'the impressive Schola Cantorum', describing the Vaughan's music department as a 'template' that might be copied by other Schools!

The weekend whilst the Schola was attracting attention in the national press we were also singing at what appears on the surface perhaps the least glamorous of all our annual commitments but one that I have long felt is the most important and worthwhile - providing music for the Sunday morning Mass at Nazareth House in Hammersmith. Nazareth House is a hospital run by the Sisters of Nazareth and the Schola has sung there every Advent for the past twenty years. This year the Schola sang music by Elgar and Palestrina and gave a short recital of carols at the end of the Mass. As always the nuns were most grateful and treated the boys and parents to tea and mince pies after the Mass.

Tuesday 10 December saw the Vaughan's annual concert with the Belgravia Chamber Orchestra which this year was of music by Haydn and Mozart. The concert was once again held in the wonderful surroundings of St James's, Spanish Place (pictured below prior to the start of the rehearsal).

Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass was the main work on the programme, in which the choir was joined by four Old Vaughanian soloists, Maud Millar, Daniel Laking, Peter Davoren and Jerome Knox, all of who sang quite beautifully. The Mozart in the concert was the Violin Concerto in G major performed with great confidence and musicianship by Thomas Fetherstonhaugh. Although it was a disappointment that many of the older pupils felt unable to perform in the concert due to the bringing forward of exams this was nonetheless a very pleasing evening of relaxed and enjoyable music-making.

With the Nelson Mass duly dispatched that only left Carols! The boys were busy, though not as busy as in previous years which was a welcome relief. The trebles sang at a Carol Service for the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea on Monday 16 December and of course were out in force at the Dorchester Hotel for the traditional singing for tea. This picture shows the Dorchester's ten foot tall gingerbread model of itself that sits in the reception during Christmas (this year complete with cars!).

The Vaughan Carol Service itself was held once again at St James's, Spanish Place and as last year saw the church filled to capacity for what has become for many the start of their Christmas. The Schola sang carols by four living composers including Thomas Fetherstonghaugh's What Child is This?, Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre, The Word Made Flesh by Philip Wilby and also the first performance of a carol commissioned by the Schola for the service, Dormi Iesu! by Matthew Martin. More familiar carols such as O Holy Night and the Angel Gabriel also made appearances - and also my favourite this year, the Sans Day Carol (in the arrangement by Rutter). There was some splendid singing from the Schola whilst the brass led the excellent congregational singing with great gusto.

The following day, the final day of a long term, saw Carols Services for both Lower and Upper School. Sixth Form Choir led the Upper School service, one that will be remembered best for the unfortunate fact that the organ broke in the final verse of O Come all Ye Faithful! The pupils continued singing undaunted however, descants included! The Lower School service had the Sinfonietta, larger than ever and enjoying the new space on the revamped New Hall stage, crashing its way headlong through ten or so carols! Much fun had by all!!

And so ended a long and rewarding term. Well done to everyone - time for a break before the challenges of the New Year - 2014, the School's 100th!


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