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Psallam spiritu et mente

Easter Course 2006 for Boy and Girl Choristers

Matthew O'DonovanApril 3rd - 5th 2006

Course Director:

Matthew O’Donovan
Eton College


Report by Matthew O'Donovan
April 3-5, 2006 saw a very successful Three-Day Course, in spite of reduced numbers from the bumper year of 2005. Eighty choristers attended, and the singing was of an impressively high standard, as was the rate at which the group’s collective musicality and ensemble skills developed over the course of the three days. A broad range of upper-voice repertoire was tackled, including two challenging pieces taken from larger works: Bach’s demanding aria ‘My heart ever faithful’ from Cantata no. 68, and Elgar’s lyrical 2-part anthem ‘Doubt not thy Father’s care’ (from his oratorio ‘The Light of Life’). Other composers represented included Gibbons, Boyce and Lalouette; the choristers also completed the usual survey of hymns and descants, psalms and responses, and learnt a set of evening canticles by James Henderson. All was carried out with real commitment and striking musicality – the Bach in particular was deftly and stylishly performed. Credit must go to the four expert housemasters, Peter Asprey, Elizabeth Burgess, Alex Eadon and Tim Kennedy, for the musical discipline and excellent preparation that was in evidence throughout the course.

In addition to their excellent singing the choristers’ procession was invariably tidy and dignified – with only one minor mishap on the first day – perfected under the effective leadership of Head Chorister Alice Hughes and her first-rate team of House Captains. The choristers’ commitment to their singing and procession was matched only by their exemplary behaviour throughout the course – they were in every way a pleasure and delight to work with. Each of the three days ended with a service in the beautiful chapel of Magdalen College; some of the choristers were able to participate as readers as well as through their singing – the readings were excellently prepared under the guidance of Course Administrator Philip Bowcock. We were, as ever, grateful to Rev. Ron Lloyd for leading the services, and Mrs Johanna Stephenson for acting as Matron.

We were pleased to be able to award scholarships to two of the choristers, Polly Dow and to enable them to attend an RSCM residential course of their choice; furthermore, 32 of the choristers had the opportunity to sing evensong at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday 8 th April – a fitting end to an excellent three days’ hard work.

Matthew O’Donovan

Details of our 2005 course


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