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, 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-Evans, Yvie Burnett and JB Gill again made some lovely observations about all the choirs as well as some helpful tips:
- 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 ..”
- 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.