Sing together, study together: the unusual school life of Britain's Choralia choir

Sing together, study together: the unusual school life of Britain's Choralia choir

An all-girls British choir is bringing carols to HK. Young Post meets two members of the choir and their director

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The Wells Cathedral School Choralia bringing the caroling to Hong Kong.

Being a good musician takes a lot of practice, but balancing music and academic studies isn't a problem for students at Wells Cathedral School, where rehearsals are built into the timetable.

One of the top choirs at the British school is the all-girl Choralia, which is coming to Hong Kong to perform on Wednesday with the City Chamber Orchestra, and host workshops at local primary schools.

Ahead of the concert, Young Post chatted to choral director Christopher Finch and Year 13 Choralia members Mair Park and Elise Coward.


Tell us about the songs you'll be performing in Hong Kong.

Finch: We'll perform [Karl Jenkins'] Adiemus, which includes strings accompaniment and nine percussionists. We wanted to connect with audiences in Hong Kong, and show off a British choir in a fun and almost theatrical way.

The second half has more of a festive feel to it, with beautiful carols, including one featuring a harp called A Ceremony of Carols.

What's special about choral singing?

Finch: Besides shared technique, there's a shared insight. I make sure they all can understand and communicate the true meaning of the text. When they are just friends and performing together as one person, a very special warmth and passion is created Elise: I've sung in a choir since I was eight and I find it a nice, shared musical experience, as opposed to singing a solo where there's quite a lot of pressure.

In a choir, everyone helps each other along and you form a really good relationships.

What's the audition process for Choralia like?

Finch: I hear them sing, I give them sight-reading, and check they can work in the right way.

I look for girls with voices that can blend well together and have the time to commit.

I also pick girls that I think will get on and that will make the most of the experience.

Where do you get the discipline to practise so much?

Mair: The teachers are good at balancing the workload: our practice is also scheduled in, unlike in a normal school. And everyone's doing the same kind of thing. It's not a discipline you need to master, it's just life here.

What are some challenges you faced recently?

Elise: Last week we had to prepare for a Les Misérables production and rehearsed from 8.30am to 11pm every day; we didn't go to academic lessons for a full week.

It was quite tricky to balance this with preparing for Hong Kong. We'd use spare moments to learn words and look at the music.

What would your advice be to young musicians in Hong Kong?

Mair: Music isn't about solo work … it's about sharing it with other people, so it's about finding people your age that you can work with and learn from.

Finch: It's important that children with talent are able to make it into something really special that will fulfil them their whole lives, and that they don't feel they're strange or different - they just have really great talent.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Sing together, study together

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