We have two fine schools within our parish. John Scottus School (JSS) where many of our parish choir’s boys and girls come from. Then just up Clyde Road, Saint Conleth’s School which we learned is now 70 years old. They have in recent years been generously helping where parish or diocesan sales need a roomy venue.
The two schools gave a combined concert on May 17. The performance commenced with the JSS Junior Orchestra and one marvelled at how well they combined at so early an age. Strings are, in my experience, devilish to play compared to other instruments but these children are ‘on their way’. Saint Conleth’s Orchestra was composed of older pupils able to tackle some Schubert and Dvorak and Mango Walk, a lively Jamaican piece where for me the girl flautist added extra beauty.
Now to the vocals! Fran Dempsey, formerly a tenor of Saint Bartholomew’s Choir, took the JSS 5th/6th choir through some delightful Irish music with the greatest of enthusiasm. Following this, his senior choir gave us Byron Smith’s ‘Worthy to be praised’, a prayerful piece, and then some lovely harmony in Billy Joel’s ‘Lullaby’. The Saint Conleth’s Boys, 5th Class, then sang Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ which was another lovely performance. Next came a delightful surprise when out trooped the girls of the JSS Junior School Choir all attired their unique striped frocks and looking like a film set from ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and singing with the greatest of enthusiasm. Fraser Wilson, at short notice, we learnt had charge of the conducting as well as the accompaniment and it was all a charming success. Saint Conleth’s Choir with their enthusiastic conductor Liz O’Neill gave us some lovely singing and especially good harmony with ‘Down to the river to pray’, traditional and ‘Benjamin’s Calypso’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber while the girls sang separately ‘Happy Ending ‘ by Mika. There was some lovely solo singing here and all very precise.
Fran Dempsey returned to control the JSS Senior Choir in JS Bach’s ‘Wachet auf ‘ with strings accompaniment. Then with Fraser Wilson at the organ ‘Dixit Dominus’ by Handel. For the final piece the combined Choirs sang Mozart’s ‘Ave Verum’. This could have been our prayer for so lovely an evening’s music. This was an extensive programme which, thanks to Daniel O’Connor, did not seem so. He took to the pulpit where he looked very much at home and kept us all moving.