TO celebrate Alton School’s (formerly Alton Convent) 80th anniversary this year, staff and pupils knew they had to come up with something extraordinary – and they did!
School spokesman Stephanie Spence said: “Over the past six months we have been planning and rehearsing endless hours and it was a wonderful experience to see it all come together on March 22.
“We knew we had to involve as many pupils as possible across both prep and senior schools while maintaining our usual standard of excellence.
“While the first half could at first glance be described as more traditional with contributions from the whole preparatory school years three to six, the senior school choir, chamber choir, junior chamber choir, orchestra and selected solos, there was certainly a wide selection of repertoire and genres, often presented in more unusual ways.
“This was certainly the case with the preparatory school who delighted us with a medley of showstopper songs, each song ingeniously linked with a short dramatic presentation.
“The engaging singing was accompanied by slick choreography and numerous members of the audience could be seen toe-tapping along! Chanteurs also offered a contrasting selection of songs – from the serene Rutter to the Disco Beat song with a convincing element of fun!”
Miss Spence continued: “The senior orchestra opened the evening suitably with an arrangement of the overture to the Barber of Seville followed by an upbeat tribute to the Baroque style with Vivaldiana. The choice was deliberate as the first half ended with the opening chorus from Vivaldi’s Gloria. Here, all the senior choirs were joined by staff, past pupils and parents to form our Anniversary choir.
“Music with a traditional influence was represented by the Junior Chamber Choir’s rendition of Dona dona (Yiddish), Ergen Deda (Bulgarian) from the Chamber choir and Jessica Stephenson’s wonderful harp solo Watching the Wheat (Welsh). Lighter repertoire presented by Annabel Hanssen (If I Loved You) and the chamber choir (A Thousand Years) brought a tear to many an eye.
“A more serious tone was set by Hendrik Wollenberg’s piano solo (October) and a harp and woodwind ensemble arrangement of one of Satie’s Gymnopedie.
“For the second half of the programme, we turned to the foundation of our wonderful school for inspiration and presented a selection of seven songs of heavenly inspiration based around the theme ‘a little nunsense’. Lively items such as Raise Your Voice were contrasted with solos and more serene numbers – at least for the first section – such as I Will Follow Him.
“A cast of 13 ‘nuns’ – complete with tabbards and wimples – danced, sang, acted and entertained us in the most convincing and engaging manner – ably accompanied by Katie Earl (drum kit), Edward Roberts (string bass) and Gus Roberts (electric guitar). Special mention must be made of the excellent solo work from Lara Thomas, Eva Barker and Mylène Harrison.
“The evening concluded with the anniversary choir joining our ‘sisters’ for Hail Holy Queen and Spread the Love Around.”
Miss Spence added: “The total commitment to the singing, and the accompanying choreography, was a joy to behold. To quote a line from one of the songs ‘I’m part of one terrific sister act’!’
“The wonderful creative set design by Roy Marvin – complete with four stained-glass windows – made an atmospheric backdrop.”
Thanks has been expressed in particular to all the “unseen” members of staff involved who pitched in and helped in so many different ways.
The concert was designed by Alton School teachers Louise Douglas, Roy Robinson and Lisa Roberts, with support from many other Alton School staff.