News and blog

From our Music Captain

From our Music Captain

The Christmas Concert is always a lighthearted evening where everyone enjoys the fun and camaraderie of making music together and sharing this with family and friends.

Although this year was unlike any other, St Mary’s musicians took the difficulties presented by Covid-19 completely in their stride, creating stunning, socially distanced performances to make the Christmas Concert as engaging as usual, even without the customary audience-participatory ‘12 Days of Christmas’.

Following social distancing meant that for the larger group pieces, each girl had to perform separately using a click track, a new skill which everyone managed really well. In a year when we haven’t been able to travel, our concert reflected a real range of cultures, from the catchy, Latino ‘Mambo Cubano’, to the Athena Trio’s dreamy Basque ‘La Paloma’, to Issy’s striking ‘Persian Fire Dance’ and finally to Gerri’s soothing Liuyang River. There was also a good range of genres with the Jazz Ensemble’s lighthearted ‘Now Rock, Ye Rested Gentlemen’, String Ensemble’s stately Handel’s ‘Air’, a lively ‘Waltz’ by the Year 11 GCSE musicians and the hauntingly beautiful choral ‘First Mercy’. The concert was finished movingly by Cantore singers and Martha’s beautiful rendition of ‘True Colours’, dedicated to key workers and the NHS.

Thanks to our amazing recording and lighting technician, Joe and the infectious enthusiasm, dedication and support of our music teachers Mrs Fisher and Mrs Gears (who all spent many hours recording each piece, often comprising multiple individual bubbles, which Joe then mixed and synched), we successfully produced a thoroughly professional virtual concert.

This year the girls have shown tremendous amounts of resilience and inventiveness, both in lessons online and once we returned back to school physically. When working online in music we performed pieces we were working on to our bubble group peers, also taking the opportunity to explore unaccompanied repertoire that we perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have played.

Encouragement from our peers was something that really shone through when doing this as everyone was so supportive, congratulating each other on their performances and giving helpful feedback.

It was great to still be able to perform to one another in such a relaxed manner and helped keep us positive in such difficult times. St Mary’s musicians showed real perseverance in staying motivated despite ABRSM exams initially being cancelled and peripatetic teachers quickly got to grips with a new way of teaching, with online lessons being a real success. They also did an excellent job encouraging and preparing girls for a new format of recorded performance exams. Recording performances individually for our concert meant that we all really honed our timing and intonation skills and everyone rose to the challenge fantastically well.

While we are so looking forward to creating and listening to live music together again hopefully soon, the pandemic has brought out resilience and creativity in everyone; and from Italians singing to each other from their balconies and Yo-Yo Ma playing in a vaccination centre to our St Mary’s informal bubble performances, we have all seen the importance of music, its power to bring us together, to help us deal with stress and relax, lift our spirits and to express a sense of community.

There is much that I wanted to do as Music Captain that I unfortunately haven’t been able to, but I am really proud of the positive, flexible and collaborative attitude of our St Mary’s musicians and all that we have achieved over the past year. Thank you everyone!

Issy H. Music Captain

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