The Headmaster’s Annual Choir Dinner on Saturday 14 January celebrated the achievements of Oakham’s singers in the Chapel Choir and Chamber Choir over the course of 2016, particularly reflecting back on the excellent carol services at the end of the previous term.
We were privileged to be joined by our guest of honour, Ashley Grote, Master of Music at Norwich Cathedral. One of last year’s leavers, Alex Bower-Brown, is currently singing on a GAP Year choral scholarship with Mr Grote, who has an international reputation as an organist and choir trainer. Those in attendance also learned of his commitment to charity fundraising, as he is currently seeking to raise a massive £50,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital over three years through being sponsored to run the London Marathon every year. He spoke passionately after dinner about his twin passions of music and food, extolling the health benefits of being a singer and the interesting parallels between music practice and cooking. Above all, his message was of the importance of hard work to develop your talents.
The whole evening appropriately started and ended with music. Having opened with a choral grace by Cecilia McDowall sung by the full Chapel Choir and soloists, the Chamber Choir entertained everyone after the speeches with the performance of a spiritual arrangement with Norwich connections – Richard Allain’s version of Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel. The traditional Form 7 entertainment followed, this year re-scripting the lyrics to the Beach Boys’ song, God Only Knows, in an arrangement by music scholar Dominic Hill. It playfully teased their fellow pupils, asking how they’d cope singing without them when they’d left, and generously paid tribute to the Director of Music (“God only knows how we’d sing without you.”).
As always, an excellent evening was enjoyed by all.