The Cranleigh Village Choral Society annually join the Cranleigh School Chapel Choir to perform big choral works with orchestra but it is 17 years since their last concert at G-Live (then the Civic Hall). Catherine Beddison, Head of Cranleigh Prep School Music, explains: “We were keen to involve the 90 talented voices of the Prep School Choir in this concert so Rutter’s ‘Mass for the Children’ (which had its 2003 UK premiere in Guildford Cathedral) was the obvious choice as the composer makes the children’s choir central to the composition, rather than just an added extra”.
Marcus Pashley, Director of Cranleigh School Music, adds “I was delighted that Catherine agreed to conduct the Prep School Choir in the Rutter to balance an accessible, popular contemporary piece with Mozart’s much-loved ‘Requiem’.” The superb young vocal soloists in the Mozart were the Cornish soprano Helen-James Howells; the Irish contralto Rachel Kelly; the English bass-baritone Charles Rice and Portugese tenor Luis Gomes. The soprano and baritone also sang in the Rutter. Marcus Pashley explains, “We are very fortunate that our Chapel Choir have singing lessons from some very distinguished vocal coaches, including the international opera singer Kathryn Harries, and thanks to Kathryn’s Directorship of the National Opera Studio, we are able to book some of the best young voices in the world”.
The large audience showed warm appreciation at the end of both pieces in which the 250-strong choir was accompanied by Cranleigh’s Merriman Concert Orchestra, led by Kevin Weaver, which is comprised of the School’s instrumental teachers, and other professional musicians with links to the School. The trombonists in the Mozart were exceptional but were also blended into the texture by conductor Marcus Pashley’s excellent control and balancing. The enjoyment of singers young and old in being part of such fine performances was palpable. This was a great showcase for the School’s music and for our links with Cranleigh village.