Ushering in the festive season

News & events

Ushering in the festive season

National Trust concert

With around 180 pupils performing, the Exeter School Christmas concert in aid of the National Trust in the Cathedral is one of the major musical events in the annual school calendar.

Taking place on Monday evening, the concert began with pupils from across the senior school ensembles performing movements from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols accompanied throughout by harp teacher Dr Grier. The plainchant Processional from Chamber Choir was followed by an enchanting There Is No Rose from members of Belles Canto. Ettejean Girvin’s dual talents in both singing and playing the harp were show-cased, her vocal solo of That Yonge Child being one of the highlights of the evening, whilst her harp duet with Dr Grier in the Interlude was magical. Middle School Choir took on the canon movement This Little Babe, a difficult piece to perform successfully given the fast tempo. Under the secure and clear direction of Mrs Guthrie they produced a polished and professional performance. The massed voices of Senior Choir delivered the last of this selection of movements with Deo Gracias ringing from all corners of the choir.

The evening was interspersed with a bible reading from Revd Tom, poetry by Fanthorpe and Causley read by Deputy Head Boy Daniel Wilcock and Head Girl Beth Pittman and an amusing piece contrasting the child’s excited interpretation of Christmas with a parent’s rather more jaded take on events performed by Third Form pupils Amy Cornfield, Charlie Dicker, Phoebe Redfern and Matthew Roberts.

As the programme progressed we heard once again from each of the choirs. Middle School Choir gave a poignant rendition of the traditional Irish song Danny Boy, whilst Senior Choir, whose membership this year includes the 1st XV rugby team, chose the Take That classic Shine and a fun arrangement of Santa Baby. The full Belles Canto entered the Christmas spirit with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, whilst Chamber Choir enjoyed Past Three O’Clock. Often voted the most popular Christmas carol, In the Bleak Midwinter provided soloists Bella Allan, Lettie Cowling, Ettejean Girvin, Emily Moudiotis, Charlie Killen and Daniel Wilcock the opportunity to shine. We Wish You a Merry Christmas from Vocal Ensemble was a fitting end to the music from the ensembles.

Along with the harp accompaniment to A Ceremony of Carols from Dr Grier, the audience was treated to no fewer than 5 pupil harpists in the Harp Strings ensemble, playing a delicate and very effective arrangement of We Three Arabian Kings. Another of the smaller ensembles, Senior Brass, produced a magnificent sound in the Cathedral acoustic with Somerset Wassail.

Following an initial performance at the November Chamber Concert, Chamber Orchestra once again treated the audience to Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons featuring 3 pupil violin soloists, Louis Solon in the Allegro non molto movement, Theo Collins in the Largo movement and George Guthrie in the Allegro movement, who all produced impressive, accomplished and mature performances.

Symphony Orchestra’s choice was two movements from Bizet’s Carmen Suite, in which the popular tunes were being played with relish across all sections of the orchestra. The orchestra could also be heard accompanying the carols for all to sing, under-pinned by Mr Daldorph on the Cathedral organ, which enabled the near-capacity audience to join in the music-making.

If you missed Monday night’s concert, don’t worry, there is still the Junior School Carol Service to look forward to on Tuesday 18 December at 2.15pm and the School Christmas Concert at 7.30pm on Thursday 20 December.

A recording of the concert is on the intranet.