After 6 weeks of intensive rehearsal, the Etone Choir performed at a concert alongside the Grammy Award winning group the King’s Singers at St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Warwick on Thursday 16th March. The opportunity came via Warwickshire Music who put Etone College in contact with Armonico Consort.
Armonico Consort is a Warwickshire based music group, founded by conductor Christopher Monks and, as part of their Choir Creation programme, musicians Caius Lee and Richard Hughes came in to work both with our Etone Choir and our staff. In sessions students were able to learn a selection of African choral pieces as well as the “Suitcase of Songs” by British composer Toby Young with lyrics by Jennifer Thorpe. “A Suitcase of Full of Songs” tells the story of how it feels to move to a new country and explores the emotions that are experienced at such a challenging time. Aidan B in year 10 said that “this has given us the chance to do something we wouldn’t normally do – the type of music we are learning thorough the project isn’t what we’d usually learn anywhere else and it’s pushed us out of our comfort zones”. Elliott in year 9 said “This project has given use the opportunity to be more than just our choir – we’ve got to meet so many other awesome people in the music community.
On the day of the concert itself our students travelled by coach to Warwick in our smart matching t-shirts to take part in the rehearsal directed by Christopher Monks and alongside the King’s Singers. The tone of the day was set when the King’s Singers began their warm up and rehearsal by treating all the students to a performance of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King as well as some other pieces from their repertoire. The rehearsal took most of the day and Etone students worked alongside students from Nuneaton and Armonico Consort’s own chamber choirs. The concert itself took place at 5pm with Etone students proudly standing in the Choir stalls and also being given the prime role of Djembe drumming!
For a number of the students it was the first concert that they had performed it and, we were made to feel extremely special when the King’s Singers took the time to come and talk to our students (there were a few high fives too!) after the concert. Students have commented on the programme giving them an opportunity to work on teamwork, communication skills and their resilience – as well as feeling a boost to self-confidence and to their mental health. Students also commented on how good it was to meet professional musicians as it shows that you can do music as a full time career.
To quote from our performance piece, “A Suitcase of Full of Songs; “What is sweeter that this choir?” – nothing! They were already asking about the next concert on the way home!