Chorister
Outreach Programme

Choral Outreach Programme - ten years of wonderful music-making

For the past ten years, the choral outreach programme run by Westminster Cathedral (conceived of and spearheaded by our illustrious former Master of Music, Martin Baker) brought wonderful music-making to 11 state primary schools in the London boroughs of Westminster and Southwark. We are very sad to see the programme come to an end, but with the loss of our musical director, Ben Clark, and the extremely sad passing of our administrator, Eileen McDade in October 2019, we are unable to keep the programme running in 2020.

The programme was hugely successful, and, among other projects, involved writing a musical on the theme of St Paul, producing Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde, and learning a vast variety of music from liturgical pieces in Latin and English to gospel, jazz and popular songs. The children have learned to sing in harmony, in rounds, a capella and in a variety of languages.

How it worked

For the past ten years, the singing team at Westminster Cathedral worked weekly with schools in the dioceses of Westminster and Southwark teaching them a large musical work that had already been written.

Song leaders visited their schools 8 times a term to teach classes choral singing. The director of music for the programme, Ben Clark, led these sessions.

Each school came to the Cathedral six times a year, with a workshop each term for everyone. At the end of the winter and spring terms, there was a concert in the Cathedral Hall.

In 2017 it was decided to engage the children further by inviting them to compose their own work and perform it themselves in the cathedral in June 2018. This involved them considerably more in the process and enhanced their creativity a huge amount.

Each school wrote their own song about one section of the story of Moses. This involved study of the book of Exodus, discussions about Moses's life and how we could relate to it: how would we feel in his situation? Would we have acted differently? Musical responses were drawn out of these questions, alongside ideas for the text of each song. The songs were all of different style, mood and feel, but they worked well together; Moses the Musical was born.

Excellence

Children not only improved their singing and learnt a lot about music but learnt other skills, too. They learnt to cooperate with and trust each other, improved their confidence and their concentration skills. Their numeracy and literacy skills improved, too. They experienced a sense of achievement and enjoy what they achieved. They had fun! They were part of an excellent, high quality experience.

We would like to thank each and every member of all the schools which participated over the years, and hope that you all had as much fun as we did. We wish you well in your future music-making.

RIP Eileen McDade - we will miss you enormously.

 


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