Ahoy there! Musical gets a hearty premiere as part of Festivities

Caroline Quentin

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A MUSICAL night exploring the life of the Mary Rose has premiered in Portsmouth.

Children from five schools took to the stage alongside the 50-strong Portsmouth Festival Choir last night.

MASSED Sing for the Mary Rose by Alexander L'Estrange, with seven local schools and choirs on stage at The Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131777-8039)

MASSED Sing for the Mary Rose by Alexander L'Estrange, with seven local schools and choirs on stage at The Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131777-8039)

The crowd were treated to sea shanties from individual schools, before the premiere performance of Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose.

The musical piece had been commissioned by Portsmouth Grammar School and Portsmouth Festivities from internationally acclaimed composer Alexander L’Estrange to kick start the 10-day festival.

Alexander, from St Albans, said: ‘It went amazingly. I was so excited and I was even playing in the band.

‘The children were wonderful and they were very enthusiastic, and the crowd joined in for the encore. It was a real evening to treasure.’

Children from Castle Primary School, The Portsmouth Grammar School Junior School, Mary Rose School, St George’s Beneficial C of E Primary School and St Jude’s C of E Junior School all joined in with great gusto.

Trevor Butler, from Gosport, was in the crowd to watch his granddaughter Tiffany Butler, 11, from St Jude’s C of E Primary School.

He said: ‘It was really brilliant. Tiffany was at the back, but when they all sat down, I could see through the crowd and when she saw me her face lit up.

‘It was great, we are so proud. They did so well, the way they organised it.’

Mum Chantel Butler, from Somers Town, said: ‘The conductor needs a medal for conducting all those children and the choir was really special.’

Over 100 people were on stage as the children were joined by The Portsmouth Festival Choir, The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir and The Portsmouth Grammar School Community Choir.

Comedian Hugh Dennis narrated the evening.

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lynne Stagg said: ‘It was absolutely fantastic. The kids have been brilliant. There were one or two little rogues there that absolutely made it, waving to their family.’

‘It’s lovely to have the city all together. It’s a real community event.’

James Priory, chairman of Portsmouth Festivities said: ‘It has lived up to expectations. This has been a year in the making and the excitement has been palpable.’

CDs of the night are available from ahoymaryrose.com.


AN action-packed weekend saw crowds of families gathering to see what Portsmouth Festivities has to offer.

But the ten-day show is not finished yet with a range of events planned before it finishes on Saturday.

Tonight, people can gather at The Holy Trinity Church, in Gosport, and spend an evening with Dr David Price, organist and master of the choristers at Portsmouth Cathedral.

Along with the singers from the Cathedral and the resident Holy Trinity Dolce String Quartet, Dr David Prince will be performing on the recently restored Jordan-Hill organ at the church.

Tickets cost £10.

Portsmouth Festivities has also arranged for a talk by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, tomorrow, at St John’s College Auditorium, Grove Road South, Southsea.

Sir Sherard will be talking about his time working in the Foreign Office and Afghanistan. 

He will also talk about his books Cables from Kabul, from 2011, and Ever the Diplomat, from 2012.

The Portsmouth Military Wives will also be putting on a performance tomorrow at Portsmouth Cathedral, in Old Portsmouth, from 8pm.

They will singing songs from their album, Military Wives. Tickets are £8.

All tickets for Portsmouth Festivities can be bought at portsmouthfestivities.co.uk