13 November 2018

This year it fell to the St Helen’s School music department to convene and direct the large forces for the JCS performance. Helena Rakowski, the Director of Music, chose to perform Mozart’s Requiem as the final event in the School’s Festival of Remembrance, marking 100 years since the guns of World War I fell silent in 1918.

The first half of the concert provided a wonderful opportunity for poignant reflection, summoning the sounds and sentiments of the time through a combination of readings, war-time songs and music to create the atmosphere of England in 1918.

The Last Post, played by a small group of boys and girls, opened proceedings, followed by the poem The Last Post by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. A close harmony group of girls then sang a medley of WWI songs, directed by singing teacher, Penny Grant (Pack up your Troubles, Good-by-ee, Keep the Home Fires Burning and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – all from Oh What a Lovely War!).

Further readings came from Philip Larkin (MCMXIV), read by David Bicarregui, Wilfred Owen (Dulce Et Decorum Est), read by Kit Matthews and from Vera Brittain (Perhaps), read by Isobel Anderson-Besant. Adam Treadaway’s Joint Chamber Choir sang a most moving setting of For the Fallen by Douglas Guest.

Particularly effective were the Choral Society’s rendering of two songs of the time, Ayer’s Let the Great Big World Keep Turning and Ivor Novello’s Keep the Home Fires Burning, which closed the first half.

The second half witnessed an impressive performance of Mozart’s great Requiem with a large chorus of boys, girls, parents and staff, accompanied by orchestra and a  group of soloists drawn from both schools, including Katie Blackwell (soprano), Bethan Kelly (alto), David Bicarregui (tenor) and Andreas Lo (bass).

Congratulation to all those who took part in this very successful event.

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