On the evening of Saturday 29 March the combined vocal forces of the Royal Hospital School assembled in the Chapel for the first Choirs’ Concert of its kind, featuring not only the Chapel Choir but also the Show Choir, Chamber Choir and Barbershop Group. The evening, which was masterfully compèred by Head of Singing Dominic Peckham, began with a spellbinding performance of Dobrinka Tabakova’s highly atmospheric anthem Praise, sung from the organ loft by the Chapel Choir and conducted by William Saunders, Director of Music. The audience were seated in the east end of Chapel facing the back, an innovation that enabled much greater communication between them and the Choir. The first half continued with a mix of newer music and some sacred choral classics, including Howard Goodall’s much loved setting of Psalm 23 and CV Stanford’s vigorous Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem, and there were most impressive solo performances from Taylor Godfrey (soprano) and Ben Banks (organ). The Choir sounded really superb in their new location and it was a joy to hear the fabulous colours of our Grand Organ used to accompany them.
The Show Choir, led by Assistant Director of Music Alice Reidy, opened the second half of the concert with a rousing rendition of Pharell Williams’ Happy‘ from the front of Chapel. The lighter, secular atmosphere continued with the triumphant appearance of the Barbershop Group, directed by Christian White, Head of Sixth Form, singing two close harmony classics with great accuracy, style and panache. The highlight for many, however, will have been the performance of the Chamber Choir, conducted by Alice Reidy, who sang two extremely poignant pieces of music: Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin and the late Sir John Tavener’s The Lamb, the latter favourite proving especially moving in light of the composer’s recent death. Both of these are technically and musically testing and the Choir rose to the challenge with sensitivity and aplomb. Dominic Peckham then took charge; first leading the Chamber Choir in an exquisitely expressive interpretation of Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus and then, in perhaps the climax of the evening, bringing all the performers and audience to their feet in a thrilling “mash-up” of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall and Queen’s I want it all, among others. To close the concert with all who had participated, both performers and audience, joining together in song was a joyous end to a wonderful evening.