The low rumbling sound of excited stomping of feet escaping through the slatted windows of our Great Hall on the night of 17 October 2019 could only mean one thing: House Singing!
House Singing at Bedford School is a much-loved and eagerly anticipated highlight in the musical calendar and the boys, after weeks of rehearsals, were in full voice and raring to go. With around 800 pupils, staff and parents from all six houses filling every single seat and the balconies awash with house colours, the atmosphere was electric.
Head of School Dan Smith opened this eagerly awaited evening, which always encourages enthusiasm and singing with gusto.
From the very start, it was plain to see that the standard this year was as high as ever. The first house out of the blocks in the unison songs was Crescent (Pemberley) who delighted the audience with a wonderful rendition of Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman blended perfectly with John Denver’s Country Road – no doubt their superb use of dynamics was down to their unwavering focus on their musical director, Peter Barrington.
A tough act to follow, but St Peter’s (Talbots) were up for the challenge with a superbly directed and dramatic arrangement of Feeling Good. The singers were beautifully synchronised and their diction crystal clear.
The other houses followed admirably, each boy singing his heart out and clearly enjoying the opportunity to sing on stage with his house mates.
Soon it was time for the Part Song section and the audience were in for a real treat from Paulo Pontine (Redburn) – a haunting and vocally tuneful version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that held the audience spellbound. It was also wonderful to see so many of the boys sing a solo line so confidently in this arrangement – the audience hung onto every note as their music filled the hall.
We were honoured to welcome Paul Trepte, organist and Director of Music at Ely Catherdral 1990-2019, as adjudicator. While Paul collected his thoughts and embarked on the tough decision of choosing a winner, the audience enthusiastically welcomed the staff singers to the stage! This relatively new element of the evening is hugely popular, and this year the choice of song was rather special. It was written by Old Bedfordian Grzegorz Turnau who attended Bedford School for one year between 1980 and 1981. Grzegorz himself reached number one in Poland with this very song – it is most certainly worth a listen!
Finally, the winners were announced to much ecstatic cheering and more stomping of feet – the noise was really quite something!
The winners of House Singing 2019 were:
Unison – St Peter’s
Part Song – Crescent
Overall winners – St Peter’s
Well done to all the boys who took part, and to those who so brilliantly supported them. Congratulations must also go to the accompanists; George Balfour, Gideon Chan, Flik Feng, Sunny Ye, Michael Lee and Artin Lee who all played exquisitely.
Director of Music Mr Jonathan Sanders said, “The adjudicator Mr Paul Trepte (recently retired Cathedral Organist of Ely Cathedral) was immensely impressed with the standard of singing last night, both in the unison songs and the part songs. The boys performed incredibly well and had taken the primary responsibility for leading and directing the songs. I am hugely proud of every single boy.”
If you missed the evening, do not worry – you can watch it here.