Category Archives: Competition

Small but Mighty – Hereford Cantabile are Winners of 2015 Senior School Choir Songs of Praise!

Hereford's Cantabile Girls Choir accepting the trophy from Aled Jones

Hereford’s Cantabile Girls Choir accepting the trophy from Aled Jones, photo Hope Pugh

Winning Cantabile with the Judges of BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year 2015

Winning Cantabile with the Judges of BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year 2015, photo Emily Prosser

Hereford Cathedral School, though small, is one of the oldest schools in England, and Herefordshire, though large, one of its most sparsely populated counties.

However, Hereford’s Cantabile Girls Choir have shown that small can be mighty!

1300 years after the likely foundation of the school, girls were welcomed into its fold. A mere forty-two years later, the Cantabile girls have shone – proudly upholding the fantastic musical tradition at the Cathedral and school.

For three years Cantabile have managed to get through to the semi-finals and many of those original girls have gone on to sing with other groups as they’ve left the school. This year the choir absorbed the largest changes yet so the odds were against them. However with the inspiration of Jo they worked together to challenge those odds (and have fun) and the result was the wonderful ‘Skylark’ which they performed in the final and which wowed the three judges. Our two soloists were Charlotte Pawley and Rachel Roper accompanied by Laurence John on the piano.

It was made even sweeter by the presence of Michael Neaum, the composer, in the Songs of Praise audience who heard it performed for the first time and loved it. The Lyricist Digby Haseler wrote the words when he was a soldier in the trenches in the First World War.

During the semi-final and final none of the Choirs are able to hear each other perform so the broadcast is the first time the choir members hear each other. It was a great set of finalists. Although Cantabile, as the winners this year, will be having a break from the competition for awhile, it’s in great hands and we wouldn’t be surprised if our fellow choir finalists this year come back to win it soon – Good Luck! Meanwhile the girls are going to celebrate – with the full support of the Headmaster Mr Smith!

Aled Jones was fabulous and made us all laugh during the filming on Mothers’ Day before swearing us to secrecy  …

The three judges, Tim Rhys-EvansYvie Burnett and JB Gill again made some lovely observations about all the choirs as well as some helpful tips:

Junior Finalists

  • Lindley Junior School Choir – “Very impressed … you really, really stood out, well done ..” “Painting a picture with your phrasing … congratulations to soloist who held it all together …”
  • Queen’s Young Voices – “choralography … loved detail and precision” … “… it felt like fun …”
  • Ysgol Lau Llangennech – winner of Junior School trophy –  “A bit of everything … we knew you were good at lullabies … this time you brought us power …” “Always heard the melody … you should be really proud of yourselves ..”

Senior Finalists

  • Hereford Cathedral Cantabile Girls’ Choir – winner of Senior School trophy –  “it was poised precise, quality was beautiful … great soloists …” “Fantastic resonance .. but very well supported …very moving and powerful performance .. “
  • Strathearn School Chamber Choir –  “Very very pleased with that … I enjoyed it very much” … “Blend between all of you was brilliant .. difficult arrangement …”
  • Twyford CofE High School Choir – “Brilliant loved it … dance and sing both … credit to you ..” ” You have IT whatever IT is … breath control very good … very, very impressive … passion …”

The full programme can be seen again on the BBC website for a short period.

Herefordshire’s Cantabile Girls are through to the Finals

Songs of Praise 2015 - Hereford Cantabile girls

Hereford Cathedral School’s Cantabile Girls Choir – semi-finals of BBC Songs of Praise Senior school choirs 2015

Wow! We’ve made it through to the finals for the second year in a row and against a really strong field of six choirs.

This is a fantastic achievement because each year the choir loses the older girls as they leave the school and Jo Williamson has to remake the mix – blending the new and existing girls’ voices to get a balanced sound. With her inspiration they have worked incredibly hard and it showed in the semi-final on Sunday.

Just to add to the pressure Michael Neaum (the Arranger of the Easter Hymn), was in the Nottingham audience listening to their performance. Both he and Jo have longstanding connections with Nottinghamshire. The competition was filmed in Nottingham’s Albert Hall which is where Jo had her professional singing debut!

We have a brilliant and completely original song lined up for the Final. We used the money we won at the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen to commission Michael Neaum to create a commemoration piece based on on the ‘Skylark’ a poem by Digby Haseler. The poet was a pupil at Hereford Cathedral School and wrote this in the trenches in the First World War.

The Cantabile support team on the day did their bit too and so a big thank you to Laurence John who accompanied them on the piano, Melanie Cuthbert and all the family and supporters of course!

The judges JB Gill, Tim Rhys-Evans and Yvie Burnett were very fair and made some great comments about all the choirs:

  • The Chapel Choir of Harrogate Ladies College – They loved the detail and refined nature of this choir and JB Gill felt he was being serenaded!
  • Hereford Cathedral Cantabile Girls’ Choir – “Truly a beautiful performance – built right from the start” … “Wow what a sound !!” … “A real mezzo richness …I must congratulate you this is a fabulous choir ..”
  • Twyford CofE High School Choir – “Bravo to the 4 boys … fullness to sound that was fantastic … really thrilling performance … ” “They really moved me …” “Texture and arrangement … control was excellent … brilliant performance well done …”
  • Tonbridge Grammar School Motet Choir – “beautifully sung .. technically difficult ..long phrases ..” Its going to be very difficult ..”Praise Altos for bottom Gs” ” Lovely blend and really did support each other ..”
  • Godolphin Vocal Ensemble – “Congratulations .. lovely clear sound and poised performers ..” “Very crisp …. dynamics throughout were beautiful …” “Overall very precise and lovely phrasing …”
  • Strathearn School Chamber Choir – “Such a great tune … folky dreamlike quality … “So beautiful .. the harmonies and blend very soothing … a very beautiful sound” ” I believed that you meant it … enjoyed that alot ..”

See the full programme with all the performances and the judges comments.

Watch Cantabile this weekend on BBC Songs of Praise …

Last weekend we saw the Junior semi-finalists of the 2015 BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year whittled down to 3 finalists.

This weekend it’s the turn of the Senior semi-finalists to trill the judges!Cantabile will be singing the Easter Hymn and face stiff competition from the cast of 6 choirs.

The three expert judges they will be facing are Tim Rhys-Evans, Yvie Burnett and JB Gill.

Who will go through to join the junior finalists in the third and final broadcast the following week? Tune in for a treat …

Sunday 3 May 16:30 BBC One

Cantabile Mums get ready for a Mothering Sunday on the edge of their seats …

Cantabile Girls Choir together with Mrs Williamson were filmed by the BBC rehearsing for their semi-final performance at the Albert Hall in Nottingham (NG1 5AA) on sunday 15th March 2015.

This is set to be a nail-biting way for all their Mums to spend Mothering Sunday so we wish the Mums of all the choirs taking part as enjoyable a day as possible under the circumstances!

Some free tickets are still available for the Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year 2015 – details on the BBC website.

 

2015 Manchester Amateur Choral Competition – Youth Choir coming up

With their January exams behind them and (some) course work under their belts the Cantabile girls are really looking forward to a singing break in Manchester!

To join them on the 22nd February at 10:30 am buy your tickets from the Royal Northern College of Music website – £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (students, under 18s and senior citizens).

We’d love your support and so would the MACC which is working hard to provide a platform for  youth choirs across the country!

You might be interested to know that the goals of the competition are to:

  • Provide a safe and creative outlet for individual and collective musical ability
  • Encourage and promote diversity through the various community choirs taking part and the music performed
  • Encourage more members of the public to participate in choral singing
  • Provide a focus for community engagement in the arts within and without the region
  • Promote the furtherance of individual and collective musical ability
  • Highlight and nurture the talent that exists outside the professional musical world
  • Encourage a professional approach to challenge and endeavour by providing a showcasing opportunity for choirs
  • Highlight Manchester’s continuing energetic role in the encouragement of the arts and as a supporter of community initiatives
  • Encourage members of the public to experience choral music in public settings
  • Provide excellent publicity for both the music-making of amateur choirs but also for all those associated with the competition on the form of funders and sponsors
  • Encourage and support cross-cultural and community networking

Old friends and new make 2015 a promising year for Cantabile

2015 looks set to be an exciting year for the choir.

Fantastically they have reached the semi-final of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year for the third year in a row.

For some of the girls this will be their fourth appearance on the show; for others their first but they will all be very thankful for the time and encouragement given by Mrs Williamson, Mr Lane and Mrs Cuthbert to help them achieve this.

The semi-final and finals for the Junior and Senior Choirs will be filmed in Nottingham in March this year and details for free tickets will be published on the BBC website in due course.

In 2015 they would love to replicate their 2014 feat in helping to raise thousands of pounds for local charities at their Concerts at Christchurch in Malvern for ARCOS SMILE and the Military Charities Concert (ABF, TRBLand SSAFA) at Hereford Cathedral with the The British Police Symphony Orchestra. A huge thank you to everyone who helped to make these events such a success.

They are looking forward to sharing the discovery of unfamiliar as well as familiar favourites with their audiences this year. Christmas showed exactly how hard existing and new members have been working to consolidate and extend their already significant repertoire so their audiences will be in for a treat.

Dates to put in your diary for 2015 so far include:

Manchester Amateur Choral Competition (MACC) Sunday 22 February 2015 Royal Northern College of Music
Songs of Praise Senior School Choir Competition Sunday 15 March 2015 The Albert Hall, Nottingham
Concert Friday 8 May 2015 St Johns Church, Bishops Castle
Llangollen Eisteddfod and Concert tbc – Please keep Monday 6 – Wednesday 8 July free
Three Choirs Festival Tuesday 28 July 2015 Hereford

Exciting journey to the European Choir Games begins!

Singing for shoppers was the first of Cantabile’s efforts to raise funds so that they could take part in the European Choir Games in Magdeburg in 2015. However practicalities mean they have now set their sights on the 2016 Games so they have more time to raise the funds needed.

On Saturday members of the Choir, with Mrs Williamson, made their own contribution to the Flower Festival and h-art events in Herefordshire to sing for visitors to Hereford’s ‘Independent Quarter’ in Church Street. They also sang in the main square in the afternoon courtesy of Marks and Spencers.

They are looking for sponsors who would be happy to give dedicated and talented young singers the exciting opportunity to participate in a European choral tour and competition. Can you help?

If you want to know more please don’t hesitate to contact Melanie Cuthbert or Jo Williamson through the Hereford Cathedral School or by emailing mjcuth@herefordcs.com.