On Tuesday 15th May Cranleigh Music held its first ever Choral Masterclass. Invitations were sent to Preparatory Schools to bring their most promising singers in Years 5 and 6 to Cranleigh for the day to work with our choral specialists on demanding music. The focus of the day was on stretching the children musically and further development of their sightreading skills and rapid learning abilities, as well as having a lot of fun in the process. They were assisted in rehearsal and performance by the exceptional talents of Cranleigh Voices who enabled the upper voice lines to become glorious four-part harmony.

The major work chosen for the masterclass given by Marcus Pashley and Catherine Beddison was Benjamin’s Britten’s setting of Christopher Smart’s extraordinary poem: “Rejoice in the Lamb”. The considerable rhythmic and vocal demands the work makes of performers places it firmly in the province of Cathedral Choirs but the fifty-four talented 9-10 year olds from Feltonfleet, St. Edmunds, Shrewsbury House, Hall Grove, Edgeborough and Cranleigh Prep Schools proved that they were more than up to the challenge. Three workshop sessions were followed by a short concert in the Chapel attended by parents of our visitors. Catherine Beddison opened the concert conducting a lyrical Benedictus setting by Brian Lewis in two parts which really showcased the beauty and purity of these very young voices in addition to their part-singing ability. A complete performance of Britten’s short masterpiece followed with pupil solos performed by Chloe Allison, Tom Hollister and Alasdair Young with organist Phil Scriven and conducted by Marcus Pashley.

It was a real pleasure to welcome the children to Cranleigh. They were, without exception, a joy to work with and proof, if any were needed, that the musical capacity of even very young children is quite extraordinary.