An award-winning school choir has just returned from performing an extraordinary musical marathon in France, where members toured six different venues in as many days.
The St John’s Chapel Choir, affiliated to St John’s College in Southsea, is celebrating a successful run of concerts in Rouen Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral and Rheims Cathedral, where the school’s founder St John Baptist De La Salle was a canon.
The highlight of the tour was a performance in Notre Dame Cathedral, attended by more than 1,500 people including many of the choristers’ families.
And a fifth concert was given in the famous musical church of La Madeleine in Paris.
The boys also found time to give impromptu concerts across Paris, including a specially-commissioned new four-part setting of the French national anthem on the top of the Eiffel Tower.
At the end of the tour the boys visited their sixth official venue, the Caen Abbey, where they sang a short concert by the tomb of William the Conqueror.
Oliver Clark has been in the Chapel Choir since it was first formed just over two years ago, and has been head chorister for one year.
The 15-year-old says: ‘The most memorable performance was when we sang in Rheims Cathedral – the atmosphere was amazing.
‘I always get a little nervous so it was nice to see my family in the audience. It’s great that they got to see us perform.
‘I really enjoy touring with the choir – it’s like going on holiday with your friends.’
Keith Ellison, the private school’s head of music, adds: ‘The tour was an unbelievable experience for the young choristers.
‘Their singing was outstanding and their behaviour impeccable throughout.
‘It was an honour to perform in so many world-famous venues. They were a credit to the school and to the city.’
Over the past two years, the Chapel Choir has sung in more than 20 different cathedrals. This summer members will be spending time as guests of Windsor Castle as the official choir-in-residence of the Queen’s Chapel, where they will sing six services.
They were also scheduled to perform at St Paul’s Cathedral in London yesterday.