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Music is the Food of Love

Once a year and always in March we hold a Music Festival. That sentence sounds deceptively simple for the reality is a complicated but exciting roller coaster of an event involving the assembly of 220 children from 8 different schools who have never met before the day, running through the rehearsal performances and ensuring that by 11:30am the Festival is ready for a public performance to a church full of guests including the Mayor. Again an achievable task at first glance. Now I will explain that nearly all of those children are aged between 6 and 7 and you begin to get a picture of the real challenges of this event.

The highlight of our special Festival are the two ensemble pieces sung by the 200 strong choir. The first year we chose ‘Can you hear me?’ by famous British composer Bob Chilcott which includes sign language as an additional delight.  This charming piece is ideal for a children’s choir and the simple message reminds us how lucky we are to have all our senses and how precious the gift of music is to enhance our lives. It became a permanent fixture on the programme and has been sung at each of the 7 St Christopher’s Festivals.

This year is the 80th birthday of St Christopher’s School and we wanted to add a dash of magic to our 8th Music Festival. The dream was to invite an inspirational figure in the world of music. We began at the top with a dream invite to Bob Chilcott and imagine our joy and surprise when, despite being booked up till 2020, the 15th March 2018 was free!

And so the dream came true and on Thursday Bob Chilcott actually came to the Festival and worked with the children on his beautiful piece before conducting the song at the Festival in person before a church full of delighted guests. What an honour and a privilege to be part of such an amazing event.  Bob’s natural warmth and charm won the children over and I have never seen such an impressive and instant effect as he drew the very best out of the children with his brilliant conducting skills.

This was a day to treasure. We took plenty of photos so that the children will be able to remember the day that they were conducted by a famous composer and as they grow up and sing increasing numbers of his repertoires they will remember the day when they met Bob Chilcott and dazzled.

Annie Thackray