5 December 2018

The arrival of Advent Sunday saw the much-anticipated visit of the Chapel Choir to the Royal Albert Hall to sing in Handel’s great oratorio, Messiah, the first such time that the School has taken part in this annual event.

The tradition of Messiah from Scratch has been operating at the Royal Albert Hall since 1974, originally under the direction of Sir David Willcocks. The Scratch Youth Messiah with TRBC (The Really Big Chorus) has been an offshoot since 2013. The event raises money for WaterAid.

This year there were some 1500 singers under 25 with their teachers and chaperones from a total of the 35 schools involved. Our Chapel Choir, under the direction of their new choirmaster, Mr Treadaway, had been learning the designated choruses since the start of term.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the organisation that goes into this event is quite awe-inspiring and it was quite an adventure for the choir. After an 8.30am departure by coach, from soon after 10am, the choir found themselves part of this huge chorus in the arena and stalls of the Royal Albert Hall.

Ben Parry, who directs the National Youth Choir was in charge and took the massed choir through a most encouraging and efficient chorus rehearsal. A fine young group of soloists joined us for the performance at 2pm.

Singing this iconic work in such a venue with such a choir was an amazing experience for all concerned – and one that we are likely to do again in the future. Judging by the enthusiasm of the boys and of the many parents who attended, it’s likely to become an annual feature of Abingdon’s musical run up to Christmas.

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