Article: Students of PGS (Hugh Summers & Ella Beard)
ON HODIE! Contemporary Christmas Carols (Sam Galdstone, Oliver Hancock, The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir)
29 July 2014
In January, we went to Jesus College Cambridge for 4 days to record a CD of contemporary Christmas Carols in the college chapel. After 7 months, we are looking forward to hearing the final recording.
The chamber choir is the school’s largest ensemble encompassing musicians from across the senior school with a repertoire ranging from renaissance to 21st Century contemporary works. We have a strong partnership with Portsmouth Cathedral, performing with the Cathedral Choir at numerous events, for example the joint evensong and a recent BBC Radio 4 broadcast. The choir is also invited each year to sing evensong at Christ Church Oxford and, in November, we work alongside the London Mozart Players to give the world premiere of a new Remembrance work written specially for us. This year will be a 50-minute cantata by Jonathan Dove.
The recording was more challenging than we anticipated as it is very different to performing live in a concert. We had to get used to the microphones and develop a high level of self-discipline, when adapting to the challenges of such a fantastic acoustic in the chapel, where any sound would picked up. We also had to have a level of concentration and stamina, especially after take 25 of a piece, where spirits weren’t so high.
The recording was an extremely rewarding process which helped us all to develop as musicians. The choir became closer and more unified , not just as an ensemble but as a group of people. As the weekend progressed, the efficiency of recording improved significantly, and the choir’s blend and tone improved hugely.
We’d like to thank Andrew King, the producer, and everyone else on the production team for helping us to create this fantastic CD, their professional insight was invaluable, giving us advice on things we wouldn’t necessarily be able to hear when singing. For many of us, it’s something we have to look back on to commemorate our time at PGS. The quality of what we’ve been able to produce to such a high standard is something that we are all incredibly proud of and we’d like to thank Mr Gladstone for making all of this possible.
Hugh Summers & Ella Beard (Students at The Portsmouth Grammar School)