A large proportion of our pupils are involved in extra-curricular musical activities, the rehearsals for which take place at lunchtimes.
Our ethos in this regard is that such activities across the year groups develop confidence in the individual and provide an opportunity for pupils to aspire to high standards in an area outside the usual school subjects. Pupils also benefit socially as they are able to mix with other pupils from all year groups in the Choir and Bands. This is further enhanced each summer on the annual residential choir trip.
There are a number of Educational Visits and Concert performances for all pupils to be involved in as well as numerous extra-curricular musical activities. Pupils are encouraged to join musical organisations outside school to further enhance their performance skills. These include Chester Cathedral Choir, Chester Schools Concert Band, the Music for Life Orchestra, Church Choirs and the Saturday Music School at the RNCM (audition required).
The Chapel Choir
The Chapel Choir are pictured above at the High Altar of Westminster Abbey July 2015.
Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir was formed in 1983 by its current Director of Music, Stewart Smith. It began as a Chamber Choir of 15 members which has now expanded to a full membership of over 65.
The choir recorded its first CD in March 1997 in Chester Cathedral, which includes the Fauré Requiem, Zadok the Priest and the Hallelujah Chorus. The second CD ‘Bright the Vision’ was recorded in 1999. In celebration of Abbey Gate College’s 25th Anniversary a third CD was recorded in Chester Cathedral in 2003. In more recent times CD’s have been made from live performances made during the Choir’s 2006 tour of the Czech Republic, 2013 tour of Poland and performances in Hereford Cathedral in 2014. The choir has also recorded a CD of ‘Christmas Favourites’. These are always available from the Director of Music and at all Concerts.
Over a 30 year period the Choir has toured Holland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, the Czech Republic, Northern Italy (including Venice), Belgium and the USA on two occasions. In the UK the choir has performed in most English Cathedrals which includes Hereford, Gloucester, Chichester, and York Minster. The choir has sung Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral London, annually since 1990 and the latest performance there will be 18th April 2016. In July 2015 the choir sang one Evensong in St Paul’s Cathedral followed by three Evensongs in Westminster Abbey. 60 members of the Choir will be undertaking a Concert tour to Germany in 2016. The tour will begin with singing at the Menin Gate at Ypres (Belgium) for ‘The Last Post Ceremony’, before travelling to The Rhineland for a concerts in Weisbaden and Koblenz. The final concert of the tour will be at Altenberger Dom near Cologne. In 2017 the Choir will be singing in Lincoln Cathedral for a week.
The Choir has a wide range of Sacred and Secular repertoire which always features in the numerous concerts the choir undertakes each year. Music ranges from Palestrina, through a variety of Romantic pieces to the present day and the music of Eric Whitacre and Philip Stopford. The choir prides itself on singing in a variety of languages which include Latin, French, German, and Russian as well as English.
The Senior Chapel Choir at Keble College Oxford before singing Evensong following a day’s tour of Oxford University:
Young Voices Choir
This group of Year 7 pupils rehearses once a week and as well as the main purpose being a training choir for the Chapel Choir it performs at many school events and concerts throughout the year. It is directed by the singing teacher Mr Hartwell-Jones.
The band rehearses once a week and performs at events in and out of school several times a year. Any pupil from about grade 3 standard is invited to join. The band is directed by the brass teacher Mr Antony Bowen-Lewis.
This is a small dance band (Saxophones, Clarinets, Trumpets, Bass and Percussion) which meets weekly and is in demand to play at various social functions. The Band specializes in arrangements of music from the 1920’s – 1950’s.
House Music Competition
The annual House Music Competition is held in the Spring each year and is an opportunity for all instrumentalists and singers to participate as soloists, in ensembles and larger groups such as the House Choirs. It is held throughout the day with the final in the evening to an audience of parents and guests. In 2016 the adjudicator will be Graham Eccles, who is well known in the North West and further afield for his Organ solo work and accompaniment. He regularly features on BBC radio. He is also an ABRSM examiner.
The College stages a Musical every two years. In 2013 it was Guys and Dolls and in November 2015 it is the Rogers and Hammerstein blockbuster Oklahoma. This is staged in the Theatre and involves pupils from all year groups.
Listen to extracts of the College Chapel Choir at a fundraising concert in Malpas Church in January 2014: