Female Voices Choir

On Friday the 17 March, the Female Voices Choir travelled to the Festival Hall in London to take part in the final of the Barnardos Choir of the Year Competition.

This competition has become immensely successful and highly competitive in recent years as many of the top school choirs in the country compete for the trophy. The selection process began back in November when the girls had to submit a recording of the repertoire chosen for an adjudication and selection procedure. In January we were informed we had been chosen as one of only eight choirs to compete live on stage of the Festival Hall in March. It became clear very quickly that we were up against formidable opposition, including both national and international champions. However, the girls rose to the challenge and worked exceptionally hard to refine their ensemble singing, intonation and phrasing. Many early morning sessions in the Old Hall, followed by occasional impromptu performances around the school (the Maths and Science Departments were very accommodating!) enabled the choir to learn how to sing in unusual acoustics and in a very spread out formation in preparation for the Festival Hall.

On the day, armed with our new uniform, we travelled down by coach to London, accompanied by many parents, older siblings and friends. The competition took place over the whole day and it was great to see St Margaret’s Prep school competing in the Primary School Category. The girls had their own green room and kept very calm before walking out onto the stage and facing an auditorium that would hold over one thousand people. The performance was amazing, full of colour and contrast, beautiful diction and wonderful solos.

In the evening, all the competing choirs gave a performance in a concert setting. The girls performed the Ave Maria even better. Many in the audience were reduced to tears by the beauty of the singing and made a point of finding us after to pass on their praise. After the results were announced, unofficial feedback from adjudicators indicated we had just missed out on second place award; an amazing achievement for a first entry into a national competition. I would like to thank all the girls for their dedication to the choir, the support they gave each other. It was a privilege to conduct them in the Festival Hall. Many are leaving his year as they come to the end of their time at Dauntsey’s, so I hope singers in the lower years will feel inspired to rise to the challenge and join the choir as we develop new singers in September. Thank you also to all parents and friends who have supported the choir this year and who came with us to the Festival Hall to experience the competition. We very much appreciate your support and enjoyed performing for you in London. I look forward to many more concerts and competitions in the future.

Gareth Harris
Director of Music