Performing is very much encouraged at The Chorister School and it is hoped that a suitably unimposing infrastructure has been established which not only provides any number of varied performing opportunities, but also encourages children to want to take part.
Proposed concert lists are available to Music Teachers several weeks before each event. Much as the School is always delighted that children are willing to participate, the Director of Music would only wish to include a child with the full approval of their instrumental teacher. Demand for places in these concerts is sometimes considerable. Programmes are ideally arranged to last no longer that 1 hour.
Each term there are up to three Informal Concerts for pupils in the Main School. These take place in the evenings from 7.00 p.m. They include performances by all age groups and at all levels. The sheer diversity of grades and instrumental variety has made this forum extremely successful. It is expected that children will attend the whole concert and support their fellow performers in the way they would like to be supported. Children are taught to present themselves in ‘concert conditions’ – they announce their pieces, bow and acknowledge applause.
Beginners are inspired by those who have been learning for some time, and for further advanced pupils, there is a very rewarding sense of the progress they have made instrumentally. They too can remember being beginners! Although there is huge support and much applause, the exercise is effected in much the same way as when a child is involved in a show-and-tell exercise. Teachers will guide the pupil through every step of the process.
In late January, the Music Scholarship candidates perform a concert of the repertoire that they will present for their auditions. The standard of this concert is very high, and although it is seen as part of their overall preparation, it is also a mark of what they have achieved in their time at The Chorister School.
Another special concert takes place in the Summer Term, in which all those who will be leaving the School are given the opportunity to perform for the Alumni Association of which they are about to become members. Included in this concert are some of the ensembles – although they may, of course, perform at others stages in the year as well.
The Annual Christmas concert takes place at the end of the Michaelmas Term and provides an opportunity for all of the choirs and ensembles to perform festive music for friends and parents of the School. Several well known carols are included in the programme for the audience to join in with. Such is demand for this concert, that tickets are often sold out within days of being released for sale.
In class music lessons pupils are encouraged to perform to one another – not necessarily at the standard which one would expect for a ‘real’ concert, but rather in a workshop environment, which does so much to break down the anxiety associated with performing. Usually children volunteer spontaneously to play to the class. The purpose of this exercise is to give children the experience of performing in front of their peers and to train children to be a supportive and receptive audience. There is of course a huge variety of material presented and very wide range of ability in these sessions and this is to be celebrated.
In the Summer Term of 2014 The Chorister School presented a concert of Choral and Instrumental music at Raby Castle by invitation of Lord Barnard to raise money for a music school in South Africa.
In December 2014 the fifth and sixth form Choristers and Galilee Choir sang a selection of Christmas music and the Senior Ensemble played at the Living North Christmas Fair at Newcastle Racecourse.
In the Summer Term of 2015, The Chorister School staged a production of Britten’s The Little Sweep at The Witham Theatre in Barnard Castle. The Third Form Training Choir sang the chorus parts and senior pupils took the lead child roles. The adult roles were provided by pupils of Miranda Wright who are studying music at University and Conservatoire level.