Tonbridge Grammar School Motet Choir performed to a large audience at the South East Regional round of the National Choir of the Year competition recently. The 34 singers travelled to The Anvil, Basingstoke to compete against 22 other choirs on the day. After a warm up with Greg Beardsall (National Youth Choir) the choirs performed to panel of judges from the musical world. Stephen Connolly, who is best known as the bass singer in the popular a cappella group the King's Singers and Manvinder Rattan who is Chief Executive Officer and Head of Conductor Training at the Sing for Pleasure charity.
The girls’ programme included ‘Two Northumbrian folksongs’ arranged by Michael Neaum, and the moving gospel song ‘I’m goin’ up a-yonder’ by Walter Hawkins.
Choir Director Adrian Pitts, who has taken the choir to this bi-annual competition over a number of years, was pleased with the girls’ performance.
“They performed really well in the Youth Category against some area and county youth choirs.” Pitts said. “The judges gave feedback on the day which was all positive. They focused on technical achievement, performance, and musicality saying the Choir produced a good warm sophisticated sound. The last song was particularly singled out when the singers’ harmony and tone was described as ‘beautiful’.”
The girls narrowly missed out on a place at the National selection round by just 4 marks! “The judges also gave us useful pointers for going forward, including trying to be a little less sophisticated!” Pitts commented.
The choir, aged between 14-18 years, rehearses just once a week, and has developed a national and international profile in recent years, appearing on TV last year in the final stages of the BBC School Choir of the Year. They toured Germany in 2015 gaining a silver diploma in the European Choir Games at their first attempt. This summer they are off to the International Music Eiseddfod at Llangollen in Wales to compete in the Senior Children’s and Folklore categories.