Emily (Music Captain 2021-2022) reflects on this year’s Senior Choir tour in Dorset.
Thursday 7 July 2022 marked the end of the school year for most at Farnborough Hill. However, a cohort of 16 girls returned to school the next day to depart for the Senior Choir Tour to Dorset. After a pandemic halting plans for a choir tour last year, there was such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude from the pupils, and especially the Upper Sixth, that we were able to go and sing at some beautiful places right here in the UK, making some life-long memories. It was certainly so much fun, and I enjoyed every second.
On Friday 8 July, we gathered at school. The Dorset 2022 choir hoodies many of us had with us were worn as we arrived and swiftly taken off - the weather was absolutely glorious throughout the entire trip. After a coach journey to Canford School, we arrived at the boarding house. Shortly after getting settled in, we walked across the grounds over to the music school to rehearse. Our surroundings were stunning, from the main school building formerly being the home of Lord Wimborne, to the acres of nature all around. We certainly made the most of our environment; on Friday we had a barbecue in a courtyard and went on to have a couple of spirited games of rounders.
The next day we woke buzzing with excitement over the day’s plans. We walked over to the main school to have a delicious breakfast before packing our bags for a trip to Swanage. I very much enjoyed taking a steam train through the Great British countryside, living out childhood memories of reading the Railway Children and many Enid Blyton novels. As we arrived in Swanage, the sun blazing down, we sat to have lunch and explore the seaside town. Some went in search of quaint bookshops, whilst others paddled in the sea (getting rather excited about hermit crabs), and we all ate lots of ice cream. In the afternoon, we sung our first recital at St James’ Church in Kingston, with instrumental interludes from myself, playing Aria by Bozza and Madeleine (11B) playing Tune for Joey by Hampton, both on the Saxophone. It was simply wonderful to be able to sing as a choir again outside of school after so long – there was a smile on my face throughout. To end such a lovely day, we went on a boat trip around the Dorset coastline, taking in the sea air and eating fish and chips.
On Sunday, we had three opportunities to sing at Wimborne Minster. The first was in the morning, for morning Eucharist. We then were able to explore the town and visit the Model Town and Gardens of Wimborne. It was fun to see both the model Minster (where inside, a tiny model wedding was taking place) and the actual Minster. After attempting to complete a scavenger hunt, peering in all the little windows and getting lost over tiny street names, most of us decided to take shelter from the heat and reward our efforts with an ice cream before heading back to Canford School. After lunch, swimming and another rehearsal, we headed back to Wimborne to sing Evensong. It has been years since the Upper Sixth sung Evensong, so it was amazing to be able to experience it one last time before leaving, and it also would have been a very new experience for Years 10 and 11; I could see and hear that their participation was done with great confidence and ease. After Evensong, we performed a more informal recital, singing some old favourites. Gemma (L6CSK) also performed Poulenc’s Cantilena from Sonata for Flute, a very impressive piece. It was so lovely to see friends, family and teachers in the audience. After a busy day it was nice to relax over pizza and pasta, laughing and smiling over the memories of the past days.
Monday 11 July was our last full day in Dorset, but I think the best was saved for last. Sherborne Abbey was simply stunning and has been my favourite place to sing and play my Saxophone in over my entire musical journey at Farnborough Hill. From the beautiful stained glass all around, to the architecture varying from Saxon and Norman to Old English and Victorian restorations, it really was a beautiful place to be. Isabella (2022) sang Die Mainacht by Brahms beautifully. The concert was wonderful to be a part of, and although it was bittersweet for the departing Upper Sixth, we were all so happy that we were just able to sing together one last time (although, the concert held on the coach on the way home proves that you can take the girl out of Senior Choir, but you cannot take Senior Choir out of the girl!) Playing one of my A level Saxophone pieces for the last time (with Farnborough Hill) at such a wonderful venue was simply amazing – I am so thankful for the opportunity.
After exploring the Abbey and basking in the sun eating yet more ice cream, it was time to head back. We played a final game of rounders to end the evening and left Canford School the next day with cherished memories. Overall, I have loved seeing all the Year Groups have fun together. It was lovely to see potential future Music Captains and know that many talented musicians are returning to Farnborough Hill this September to continue making music thrive.
As a choir, we were privileged to have Mr David Warwick accompany us on the organ at Wimborne and Sherborne. Many thanks must go to him, not only for taking the time to play for us then, but also for rehearsing with us at Canford, and writing a Psalm for us to sing. I must also, on behalf of everyone, thank Mrs Hocking and Miss White for joining us on the tour. Thank you, Dr Taylor, for musically directing us, and Miss Warwick for being the most amazing tour leader; all of this would have never come to reality without you.
Comments from the Senior Choir:
“Dorset was an incredible experience – the venues we sang at were beautiful and had lovely acoustics which were a treat to perform in. I gained so many awesome friendships and the camaraderie between the choir made the trip an absolute joy – I loved every minute!” Gemma (L6CSK)
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to sing in some stunning places and also have fun and make new friends with people from different Year Groups.” Annabel (L6CSK)
“As it was Upper Sixth’s last tour and more importantly the last time we would sing in the choir, it was amazing yet bittersweet. I have loved every second of Choir since I joined in Year 7, and to be able to finish off my school experience in Upper Sixth with a choir tour was fantastic. The laughs around the ping pong table, singing on the bus and most importantly performing in these beautiful places will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I would not change it for the world.” Abigail (2022)