The Senior Choir
Every year the Senior Choir raises a substantial sum of money for various charities through its many concert performances – this year, so far, the choir has raised somewhere in the region of £5000 for local charities – but perhaps the most notable is its annual Christmas Carol Service in St Mark’s Church, Newtownards. This always features a performance of extracts from Handel’s Messiah with the soloists taken from the ranks of the choir and, for many, this has become a highlight of Christmas.
The School’s Senior Choir was three times finalists in the ‘UTV School Choir of the Year’ competition following which it was honoured with an invitation to perform at the inauguration of the President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Belfast’s City Hall.
In April 2002 the choir entered the ‘Open Class’ of the Bangor International Choral Festival competing against adult choirs from Scotland, England and as far away as Iceland. It was not only awarded first prize of £1000 but also received the coveted shield for the ‘best overall performance of a single work’ having competed against 64 other choirs over four days of competition!
In the autumn of 2005 the choir returned to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast to provide a charity concert alongside Amici Forever and in 2007 performed with the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment in its final province wide tour before being disbanded.
Auditions for the Senior Choir take place every September with approximately 30 new places being awarded to over 80 applicants. Competition between students is very strong particularly when set aside the level of commitment expected from choir members; sectional rehearsals take place at lunchtime with the full choir practice on Friday afternoon for an hour-and-a-half after school, when the rest of the school community has retired for the weekend.
Over the past few years the choir has produced a very rare performance for Northern Ireland of John Rutter’s three movement ‘Gloria’ for 10-part brass, percussion, organ and choir; Vivaldi’s exuberant 12-movement Gloria accompanied by a baroque period orchestra; Haydn’s ‘Nelson Mass’ and Handel’s celebration anthem, ‘Zadok the Priest’. In 2006 the choir had the honour of performing the Irish Premier of John Rutter’s ‘Psalmfest’ and in 2007 “The Armed Man – a Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins, both accompanied by a 30-piece professional orchestra.
In 2008 the choir celebrated the 85th anniversary of Regent House with a full performance of Handel’s Messiah in Bangor Corporate and Conference Centre and, with the addition of former pupils from the previous ten years, a choir of 170 singers was accompanied by a guest orchestra comprising instrumental tutors, past pupils and friends of the Music Department.
The Junior Choir is open to everyone and anyone in the junior school who can “hold a tune in a bucket!” Fun is the order of the day and repertoire in recent years has included selections from The Lion King, Mamma Mia, The Boyfriend, and Oliver. The choir is directed by Mrs Adgey, one of our voice tutors, and accompanied by Mrs Mort and, again, rehearsals are held every Friday afternoon from September right through to April.