‘A Call To Peace’
Tuesday evening saw the RGS Worcester Family of Schools annual Choral concert fill Worcester Cathedral with music in the pursuit of peace as ‘A Call To Peace’ took place. Performed by over 250 musicians from all four RGS Schools, and attended by an audience of many hundreds that filled the Cathedral, the concert proved to be a memorable evening of both epic and intimate music of the highest-quality, offering a unique moment of collaboration, celebration and reflection for the whole RGS Worcester Family of Schools.
The RGS Wind Ensemble opened the concert with a dramatic and striking performance of Copland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, composed in 1942 in aid of the war effort. Songs from the choirs of RGS Springfield, RGS The Grange and RGS Dodderhill, all calling for or promoting peace in various musical styles and languages, followed, with the Dodderhill choir joining with the RGS Worcester Junior Choir in a sensitive performance of the three-part round ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’. The Junior Choir performed ‘Still Holding My Hand’ from Matilda the Musical and the RGS Worcester Senior Choir, with over 100 members, closed the concert’s first half with a stylish performance of the jazz-gospel classic ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’.
Further moments of musical delicacy came from a Senior String Sextet of Sixth Form students who performed an exceptional new piece by Upper Sixth Music Scholar Tobey Butler. Entitled ‘Armistice’, the piece combined close jazz harmonies and sweeping melodies to evocatively suggest the close and aftermath of conflict. The Chamber Choir opened the second half of the concert with a reharmonisation of a chorale by Bach, reworked by Upper Sixth Music student Aoife Smith, before the same group sung Holst’s Nunc Dimittis. In eight parts, this unaccompanied piece was a real challenge for the choir who rose to it splendidly, filling the Cathedral with an amazing wall of choral glory in the piece’s closing bars.
The concert’s culmination came in a performance of the Choral Suite from Karl Jenkins’ ‘The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace’. Composed in 1999, this moving work is cast in five movements and saw a 30-piece orchestra combine with a massed choir of 230 singers, comprising students from Year Five upwards (including several teachers). Moving from the reflective, minor melodies of the ‘Kyrie’ to the drama of the tribal-esque ‘Sanctus’, the piece’s emotional heart comes in the ‘Benedictus’ where a truly inspiring, extended ‘cello solo from Martha Burdon set up the choral drama of the central ‘Hosanna’. This twenty-five-minute extended piece showcased RGS Music at its best: challenging and adventurous repertoire being met head-on with thorough preparation and a passionate and committed performance from members of all four RGS Schools to create a musical memory for performers and audience to share.