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Chamber Choir sing the praises of magical trip to Cambridge

Chamber Choir students and Music department staff pose for a photo during their trip to Cambridge

Members of the Chamber Choir had a wonderful action-packed day as they headed to Cambridge to perform in a joint Choral Evensong Service with the choir of Jesus College in their historic chapel.

After arriving following an early start, the musicians met up with recent Old Stopfordian Caitlin Cutts (OS 2021) who is currently a choral scholar at Jesus College.

Upon the completion of lunch, tours of King’s, Trinity, Christ’s and Jesus Colleges were on the agenda.

At King’s College they walked around the grounds and explored the chapel. This part of the tour was hosted by former pupil Henry Brearley (OS 2015) who is now a Lay Clerk singer in the world-famous King’s College Chapel Choir. The Old Stop was a great host and he pointed out interesting facts about the history of the college, including its royal patronage.

At Trinity College the group strolled around the college and visited the chapel.

At Director of Music Mr Dow’s old college, Christ’s College, the travelling party listened to a talk from the college’s Director of Music Dr David Rowland about pathways in higher education and opportunities in Music at Oxbridge colleges and other universities, such as choral and organ scholarships. There was an opportunity at the end for pupils to ask questions and learn more about future opportunities that may be of interest.

Caitlin then delivered a tour of Jesus College with one of her fellow students before the singers from both Stockport Grammar and Jesus College took part in a joint rehearsal in Jesus College chapel.

During the service, which was attended by several friends and family members, the singers performed a number of choral pieces, including ‘Preces and Responses’ by Reading, Stanford’s setting of Psalm 150’, ‘Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D’ by Wood and Handel’s ‘And the Glory of the Lord’.

Speaking about the trip, Sixth Former Adina Vidler said: “I had a great day and really enjoyed visiting different colleges, each with their own character. The Evensong performance was magical and I found singing alongside the Jesus College choir inspiring.”

Mr Dow agreed: “The day in Cambridge was thoroughly enjoyable. Choral Evensong, together with Jesus College Chapel choir, was a beautiful service and it was a great opportunity for our pupils to sing with an outstanding choir and to work with their Director of Music, Mr Benjamin Sheen.

“I was incredibly proud of our pupils and how well they sang. It was also lovely to see recent Old Stopfordians Caitlin and Henry and to hear them enthuse so much about their experiences in Cambridge.”

Caitlin commented: “I was so excited to welcome the choir of SGS into the Cambridge choral scene for a day. These trips had been a highlight of my time at school and it was a privilege to share that experience with a fresh generation of talented musicians. Despite the chapel choir being a now treasured community of mine, it is not something that I had considered I would be capable of until I went on these trips myself. The encouragement from Music teachers convinced me to apply and I have not looked back since.

“I had so many choir members come to me to tell me that they were very impressed with the SGS singers and I equally felt the same. I was very proud that the community of singers at SGS continues to be enthusiastic and high achieving and able to showcase this in a different environment to what they were used to. I had so much fun catching up with the students and hope that the choral world inspires them as it did me.”

Mr Sheen concluded: “It was such a privilege to host the choir of Stockport Grammar School. The level of music making was on a professional level and the students were all a pleasure to work with.

“The beautiful acoustics of the chapel were filled with the glorious sound of both the Jesus College and Stockport Grammar combined choirs in what was a musical highlight of my time here at Jesus so far. Congratulations to Michael Dow and all his colleagues for inspiring such a love of singing and preparing the choir so admirably.”