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Wilberforce Primary pupils go wassailing!
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Wilberforce Primary pupils go wassailing!

Pupils give premiere performance of specially commissioned piece

Last night Wilberforce Primary pupils sang with hundreds of their peers from across the country in a special concert in Southwark Cathedral.  The pupils had travelled into central London to sing in the premiere performance of Wassail! Carols of Comforts and Joy – a brand new musical score composed by renowned composer Alexander L’Estrange.

The performance was organised by United Learning – a national group of schools which includes Wilberforce Primary.  United Learning’s Partnership Fund, which seeks to enhance the opportunities available to pupils, had commissioned  the piece as a way of opening up the world of choral singing to pupils across the Group - – the piece itself draws on folk traditions with a modern twist influenced by both jazz and modern choral music.

This week’s performances were the result of months of intensive rehearsals.  The Wilberforce pupils had been learning and practising the piece since the beginning of term but only joined with the other schools on the day of the performance.  In preparation, pupils had participated in singing and performance workshops led by the VCM scholars and performers from acclaimed choral ensemble, Apollo 5.

Claire Macfie, Head Teacher at Wilberforce Primary, said:

What an amazing opportunity for our children. To listen to them rehearsing in the school hall is one thing, but to hear them sing as part of a choir in Southwark cathedral was a delight.  I am so proud of them all. The Christmas festivities have well and truly begun!

Mark Jackson Year 3 Teacher at Wilberforce Primary, said

“Last night was a truly special event for all involved. The children have enjoyed the whole experience and to top it off with the performance at Southwark Cathedral was magical. I am incredibly proud of all the children for their efforts and the way they conducted themselves throughout. To be part of an event like Wassail, is very special and will inspire many of them to continue singing and to participate in other events.”

Year 3 pupil Audrey said:

“Performing at Southwark Cathedral was great because we got to sing on stage and in front of our parents. Singing with the other children was amazing because we got to sing with other schools and it sounded really good.  Wassail has been brilliant, particularly working with Alexander and Mrs Barker!”

Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts at United Learning, said:

“Last night’s performance was absolutely spectacular.  The sound of hundreds of students from across the country singing together has been truly moving and I am thrilled that the students received such a resounding round of applause from the audience.

“Not only has this project introduced our students to a vast array of different types of music, it has given them the chance to collaborate with their peers from across the country.  These performances showed that music can unite us all – wherever we live and whatever our background.  It has been incredibly poignant to see our choirs comprising students from a diverse range of cultures and I hope that Wassail! will continue to bring such enjoyment to all schools throughout the country.”

Wilberforce Primary pupils also feature on CD and online release of the work which is now available on general release.

This project has recently been shortlisted in the Best Classical Music Education Initiative category at the Music Teachers Awards 2018, sponsored by Classic FM.  The winner will be chosen by a public vote on www.classicfm.com

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The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
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