Each year, we run a spectacular event for the local primary and prep schools. We send out CDs and music to over 30 schools to work on over a term, then our Assistant Director of Music goes into each school to work with them individually. Finally, over 400 pupils participate in a half day rehearsal and workshop before putting on an evening performance to an audience of over 1000. Recent themes have included Bugsy Malone (with splurge guns), Hits of the 1970s, Oliver! and Songs from the Shows. The excitement builds with a “Voice” style sing-off for the solo roles in the performance.
Following the huge success of our Come-and-Sing day, the soloists nominated by each school for the soloists sing-off are invited to come and spend an afternoon with the Chapel Choir at our Be-a-Chorister event.
The visiting singers enjoy a school lunch, and are put through their choral paces by Mrs Ros Shaw and Mr John Young and work in teams on a special quiz about the school chapel before meeting the chapel choir to rehearse for evensong. Music at the last service included Howard Goodall’s setting of Psalm 23 (otherwise known as the Vicar of Dibley theme), Stanford’s Magnificat in Bb and ‘Blessed be the God and Father’ by SS Wesley.
‘The calibre of these young singers was highly impressive and they worked really hard, achieving great things in a short space of time. The combined choral sound in chapel during the service, with everyone giving their all, was truly stirring’ said Director of Music, Andrew Trewhella. ‘We really hope the children enjoyed their short introduction to this very different area of choral singing – one we do extremely well at Wellington’.
Instrumentalists from prep and primary schools join with Wellington's senior orchestral players to form the 'Mighty Orchestra'.
The combined forces of over 70 musicians meet for two workshop sessions, last time rehearsing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and music from the John Williams 'Star Wars' scores, including a track from the most recent movie 'The Force Awakens'. The climax of the event is a teatime concert for parents and teachers, which also features performances from some of our Award-holders and small ensembles. The project affords the young instrumentalists the opportunity to meet and play alongside Wellington's musicians and be coached by the department's specialist instrumental staff.
The maestro is Mr Chris Sampson, who also arranges and adapts the music, providing bespoke parts for all the players.
'Music is the biggest team sport and it was a truly uplifting experience to watch these remarkable young people meet, play, rehearse and shape a performance together' said Director of Music, Andrew Trewhella. 'The concert was wonderfully inspiring - hearing what had been achieved in so little time. It was a privilege to be a part of it and we're already looking forward to opus 2 next year.'
Over 70 of our singers enjoyed an inspirational a cappella day with the fabulous Apollo5. A morning of fun a cappella warm-ups, beatboxing and learning songs in multiple harmony parts - including Uptown Funk - interspersed with jaw-droppingly brilliant performances from Apollo5, was followed by a series of masterclass sessions in which established groups Girlforce9 and Bel Canto - albeit in their new line-ups - took their turn to work with the group, along with 2 pupil-led ensembles - a Year 11 girls a cappella group and boys close harmony group, the Dominant 7ths. The professionals gave invaluable feedback on aspects of stagecraft as well as musical matters, such as balance and breathing.
All four ensembles performed in the evening concert in chapel, during which Apollo5 thrilled the audience with amazing vocal pyrotechnics in music ranging from Monteverdi to Bob Dylan and Purcell to the Jackson 5! There was even some audience participation at the end. The choral effervescence was complemented by pitch perfect prosecco during the interval. The group reflected 'we had a great day and heard some AMAZING a cappella ensembles. Ones to watch for the future!'. If the thunderous applause at the end of the concert is anything to go by, I'd say an fantastic and inspirational day was had by all.
Each year, we present a range of Carol Services for the Lower School, Upper School and Boarders. The Chapel is always full to capacity and the renowned Chapel Choir process by candlelight.
Regarded as the start of the festive season by many and renowned for its quality, the Nine lessons are read at each service by pupils and staff and the music is led by the acclaimed Chapel Choir. Familiar hymns and thrilling descants interweave with carols from the choir and the much-loved bible readings to retell the story of Christ's nativity. The Lower School service last year featured a poised and moving performance of Bob Chilcott's 'Midwinter' by Year 7 and 8 vocal ensembles, Bel Canto and BVox.
The Chapel Choir holds the congregation spellbound through a tapestry of carols which last year ranged from the comfortably familiar - Handel's 'For unto us a child is born' from 'Messiah' and John Rutter's ravishing 'What Sweeter Music?' - to less familiar and more recent fare, such as Will Todd's beautiful 'Softly', William Mathias' 'Sir Christemas' and a gorgeous and fresh setting of Christina Rossetti's poem 'In the Bleak Midwinter' by composer and friend of the choir, Richard Allain. The iconic first verse solo in 'Once in Royal David's City' is always sung by one of our boy choristers.
Last year’s musical programme also paid due homage to choral legend and ex-Director of the choir of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, Sir David Willcocks who died in September. Alongside some of his peerless descants, the choir also sang his characteristically exuberant setting of the traditional 'Sussex Carol'.