Songs of Praise Final
25 April 2016
After months of hard work and practice, Oakham’s Chamber Choir were one of only three senior school choirs in the country to reach the final of the prestigious BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition.
Broadcast to millions of viewers on BBC One on Sunday, the final saw Oakham compete against Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and St George’s College, Weybridge.
“While we didn’t bring home the trophy, our choir can certainly, in the words of one of the judges, hold our heads up high,” says Director of Music, Peter Davis. “This is one of the most fiercely competitive and prestigious school choral competitions, and I’m incredibly proud that having only ever entered it twice, we reached the semi-finals in 2012 and now, in 2016, the finals. This is a real testament to the quality of music on offer at Oakham.”
Presenter Aled Jones called all three school choirs “magnificent” and, after Oakham’s performance, he suggested the choir had “set the bar really high.”
Connie Fisher, who won the BBC One talent contest How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? gave an enthusiastic review of Oakham’s performance: “It was such a polished performance; I didn’t think you could get any better but you’ve just proved me wrong. It was dynamic; it was gloriously lazy, yet musically crisp. You were so together. And that wall of sound that you create…I really love listening to you.” She finished off her rapturous review by joking that “I’d like to walk with you on my iPod”, as the choir had sung “I want Jesus to walk with me.”
Another judge, Katherine Jenkins OBE, who is one of the most successful classical music crossover artists in the world, thought that Oakham’s “strength is their complicated harmonies.”
The third judge, Ken Burton, the internationally-renowned composer and conductor whose particular focus is Gospel music of the nature that Oakham sang, described the School’s performance as “effortless - it was easy, it was light, it was bouncy.” He later went on to say “they nailed it as an arrangement. And they nailed it chorally.”
“The students are so deserving of this national recognition and such fulsome praise from the judges. It was an outstanding achievement to sing so well in front of the camera crews, hundreds of spectators and, of course, the judges. It’s certainly an experience they should remember proudly and fondly for the rest of their lives,” continues Peter.
If you missed the semi-final show, you can view it on iPlayer. – it contains a short piece filmed at Oakham, presented by two of our Choir, Alva and Will. You can also watch the final here.