Issue 12 I Michaelmas Term 2017
Termly Review The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
Contents MICHAELMAS term 2017 4 Religious Life An insight into the religious life of the Vaughan this term 8 Speak Out Challenge Fourth Formers compete in the annual Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge 10 Philosophy Society Mr Fleischer reflects on the talks and topics discussed by Philosophy Society this term 12 Life Drawing After-school art classes for staff and the Sixth Form 14 Busy Bees An update on the Vaughan’s bee colony 15 - 17 Seasonal Celebrations Christimas festivities at the Vaughan 18 Sport Latest news from the PE Department 22 Music Latest news from the Music Department 26 Schola Tour of South Africa Mr Price reflects on the Schola’s first trip to South Africa
Time can play tricks. As is alway when most of the academic h in the blink of an eye: it feels topping public examination res ago. But what actually did hap the wonderful public recogniti received the Comprehensive S State Secondary School of the Sunday Times. This accolade fa of exam performance, but also t the School provides for pupils’ o 6 art, drama, competitions and tr course a measure of outcomes acknowledgement of what we
By ‘we’, I do not mean the te contribution is enormous. Th is wider than that: we are a pulling in the same direction: pupils and do everything in the
ys the case, this term – the longest, heavy-lifting is done – has passed as if the summer, with its nationsults, was only three or four weeks ppen three or four weeks ago was tion of those fine grades when we School of the Year and the London e Year Awards for 2018 from The actors in not only the hard currency the softer, but equally critical input overall development: sport, music, rips. In short, while the award is of – and quite right too – it is also an put in.
do the Directors, as do the parents, and, of course, as do the pupils themselves. We are drawn and held together by our Catholic ethos, a community underpinned by the loving power of God. A happy Christmas to you all.
eaching staff alone, though their he reason for the School’s success happy and energetic community Our staff want the best for their eir power to secure it for them, as
Pupils wear red for Red Wednesday
Religious Life at the School A number of parents and former pupils joined us for the School’s annual Foundation Day Mass at Westminster Cathedral in September. This year’s service was celebrated by Father Pellegrini, the fifth Headmaster of the Vaughan, with choral music from the Schola Cantorum. One of Father Pellegrini’s many achievements whilst Head of the Vaughan was to found the Schola in 1980. Mr Price invited Father Pellegrini to choose the music that the Schola would sing for the Foundation Day Mass this year and he asked for the Missa in honorem B.M.V. de Loreto by Goller and Like as the Hart by Herbert Howells, which the choir duly sang. The choir was augmented by members of the Senior Brass Ensemble in the Hymns which included Vaughan favourites Praise to the Holiest and He Who Would Valiant Be. In December, the Schola Cantorum provided music for another important service in the Vaughan Calendar by singing alongside the Vaughan Brass Ensemble at the Service of Lessons & Carols, held at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington. This is always a popular occasion and we were delighted to welcome so many of you for what is the perfect start to the Christmas season.
CVMS Summer Fête on 2 July
Father Salar Kajo, a priest from the Chaldean Diocese of Alqosh, spoke to the Lower Sixth Form on 13 October about the situation facing Christians in Iraq and the support received from Aid to the Church in Need. This followed a special event at the House of Lords on 12 October, which Fr Kajo also spoke at and was attended by the Headmaster, Head Boy and Head Girl. Titled â€˜Can Christians in Iraq, Syria, northern Nigeria and elsewhere survive genocide and other crimes against humanity?â€™, the event was chaired by Lord David Alton of Liverpool, in association with Aid to the Church in Need, and featured witness testimonies from Church leaders and aid project partners with firsthand experience of persecution. Other speakers included Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, and Sister Annie Demerjian from Aleppo, Iraq, who we welcomed to the School in October 2016. In November, a partnership Mass was held with Newman Catholic College for pupils in the First Form. This was celebrated by Fr Mark Vickers with Jonathan Olasunkanmi, Kyrullos Aziz, Leonardo Armani and Xavier Cudjoe-Cole as servers. Following the Mass, pupils enjoyed refreshments and an opportunity to socialise with their peers in the New Hall.
Guests & speakers we have welcomed to the Vaugha
Author Mitch Johnson spoke to the First Form about the Old Vaughanian and barrister R inspireation behind his debut novel Kick. Form about setting goals and the
A-Level marketing students were given an advertising masterclass Karen Anstiss, Service Manager a by James Clee, planner at VCCP marketing agency. Knight, founder of Just Enough UK human trafficking and raising awa
an this term
Roy Ledgister spoke to the Fifth e importance of self-belief.
at Caritas Westminster, and Phil K, spoke to the Sixth Form about areness of modern slavery.
The Fifth Form enjoyed a workshop on CVs, job applications and interviews with speakers from Apple and Richmond upon Thames College.
Tim Marshall, bestselling author of Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics, spoke to Upper Sixth Geographers about the relationship between Geography and Politics. www.cvms.co.uk 7
November saw the School participa annual Jack Petchey Speak Out Challe pupils from 4E1 enjoying a one-day session on public speaking. As the biggest youth speaking event, the Ch designed to build confidence, enablin people from all backgrounds to sp clarity, conviction and impact.
Throughout the day pupils learnt structure a speech, maintain eye and improve their delivery. After ex their opinions on a variety of subj day culminated with a final Speak Ou with pupils delivering their own 9 speeches on any topic they felt strong – using only their voices, their words passion.
The range of topics was incredibly with boys speaking on everythin swimming and smoking to domesti knife crime and gender neutrality. T of the speeches was also brilliantly Josue Calvopina raised laughs for hi Kylie Jenner - “some may she’s plas think she’s fantastic.” - while Olive had everyone thinking through his vegetarianism: “Originally I thought just try it for a week, but now I wou go back.”
The feedback from pupils was in positive, with 100% of them reporting enjoyable experience and one even it ‘one of the most beneficial expe have had at my time in school’.
ate in the enge, with y training e worldâ€™s hallenge is ng young peak with
how to e contact xpressing jects, the ut contest 90-second gly about and their
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Five pupils whose speeches particularly stood out were selected to speak in an assembly on 16 November in front of the whole of the Fourth Form and a judging panel made up of Miss Oâ€™Connell, Mr Christian and Mr Skinner. Congratulations to the following boys, listed below in the order of delivery: 1. George Campbell, on consent 2. Tommaso Kelly, on social media 3. Amanuel Worku, on knife crime 4. Gideon Hanibal, on suitable haircuts 5. Alessandro MacKinnon, on swimming The judging was based on three areas: content, delivery and structure. All of the boys spoke exceptionally well and had clearly spent a great deal of time practising and preparing their speeches. Special congratulations to Gideon who, after a great deal of deliberation, was chosen as the challenge winner and will now go on to represent the Vaughan at the Speak Out Regional Finals.
The Latest from Philosophy Society
Mr Fleischer, Head of Religious Education & Philosophy, reflects on the talks and topics Philosophy Society this term.
The Philosophy Society has never ha McDonald taking us on a tour of Spinoz explaining lucidly the theological und non-material monism, the quality o truly outstanding. But what has str highly talented and sophisticated A desire to know the truth by studying human history.
Speaking of which, Jack Franco then reflective topic: What is history? Is dumbfounded, not only by the fact th to Michael Oakshott’s LSE seminar o two Masters’ students and three Ph pupils were engaging with the very sa candidates in their own free time! the famous mind body problem, le but initiated, while Samuel Leahy’s t sophisticated but showed a lot of rea been in Nietzsche seminars at Berke that level already.
Poppy Hill’s feminist exposé was eas a computer failure she courageou intellectual skills but her artistic ones a on the board in images. Benedict G Epicureanism, the founding father of and made the intellectual links to sh when it comes to end of life issues. Jo talk about Marcuse on Beauty and Fre off the series with the idea of liberty, Catholic theologian Karl Rahner: Libe leads her people! Mr Fleischer
s discussed by the
ad a better year. From Francis za’s Pantheism to Tom McGrath derpinnings of Berkeley radical of the presentations has been ruck me most watching these A-Level students is their keen the greatest minds in Western
n brought us to a wonderfully s it over? Here again, I was hat this took me back 30 years on the topic - five professors, hD candidates - but that these ame ideas - ie ‘ordinary’ A-Level Christian Da Silva introduced eaving younger pupils puzzled talk on Nietzsche was not only ading and background; having eley, I can honestly say he is at
sily the most popular - despite usly displayed not only her as well, drawing her arguments Gardner spoke eloquently on modern atheistic materialism, how us why it is rather shallow oe Stewart had the boldness to eedom while Sr Finbarr finished taken from the thought of the erty, at the Vaughan, certainly
Talks and speakers this term: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Ubermensch Samuel Leahy Epicureanism Benedict Gardner Feminism and Religion Poppy Hill Liberalism, Mill, and his Greatest Critic Mr Fleischer Baruch Spinoza & Pantheism Francis McDonald George Berkeley: Does Your Body Even Exist? Tom McGrath The End of History Jack Franco Beauty and Freedom: The Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse Joseph Stewart Karl Rahner’s Conception of Freedom Sister Finbarr Free Speech Floor open to speakers
Philosophy Society is held every Tuesday lunch from 12.55 pm in Room 601. All pupils welcome. www.cvms.co.uk 11
Life Drawing Every half-term the Art Department hosts an after-school Life Drawing session for staff, with each session featuring a different professional life model. This term we were very pleased to be able to open up the event to our A-Level Art students, allowing both our Sixth Formers and teaching and support staff an opportunity to express their creativity, try something new and create a piece of artwork. All materials are provided with a range of chalks, paints and different coloured and textured paper for artists to choose from. Huge thanks to Miss Herbst and Miss Carew for organising such an enjoyable and popular event for staff and Sixth Formers alike. Please see Miss Herbst for details of the next Life Drawing session.
Worldâ€™s Biggest Coffee Morning Thank you to all our teaching and support staff who took part in the annual Great CVMS Bake Off and helped raise ÂŁ400 - our highest-ever total - for Macmillan Cancer Support. Special thanks to Miss Carew for organising the event, Head Chef Esther Buckman for resuming her role as judge and all our many star bakers.
Busy CVMS Bees After spending their summer holidays relaxing in Tottenham, the Vaughan’s bee colony returned along with the rest of the school in September ready to work. Ten jars of limited edition, first-batch CVMS Raw Honey went on sale - and quickly sold out later that month, before the temperatures dropped and the bees headed to the hive for winter. Bees have one main job in winter: to take care of the queen bee. This means they must keep her safe and warm, and to do this they form a ‘winter cluster’, surrounding the queen and fluttering their wings - like a shiver - to maintain a continuous use of energy and keep the temperature of the hive warm. Spring is the start of the beekeeping season and come March the bees will be back in production-mode and we can all look forward to some more honey!
Senior Citizens Christmas Tea Dance In December we welcomed local Senior Citizens for the Vaughanâ€™s annual Christmas Tea Party, featuring festive food, live music, singing and lots of dancing! Thank you to Councillor Marie-Therese Rossi, Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, for joining us on what was also her birthday and to everyone who helped make the evening such a wonderful success and a festive occasion for us all.
Click here to view and download the full online photo album
Staff enjoy Lunchtime Christmas Carols by the boys of the Schola Cantorum
Many of you donated hundreds of items to local food banks provided by Notting Hill Housing Trust. Thank you for your generosity and for helping those in need this Christmas.
Christmas crafting in the Library
The 2017 Christmas Dinner & Dance, featuring live music from The Cardinals
Latest News from the PE Department It has been a wonderfully busy and successful term for sport at the Vaughan. It is with great pride that I include a review of our sporting achievements. Pupils continue to enjoy the opportunity to represent the School in a wide variety of sports and activities as well as top-level coaching across the board. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our sportsmen and women who have excelled during this term, and give a special thank you to all of the sport staff who have given up their time to help. Wishing you a blessed Christmas and 2018. Mr Terblanche Head of PE 18 www.cvms.co.uk
September • Dominic Ogbechie achieved a new personal best of 7.22m in the Long Jump at the 2017 School Games on 1 September, ranking him as the best Under-17 in the country for the Long Jump, High Jump and 200m. • On 16 and 17 September, Dominic went on to achieve 8th place in the National Schools Combined Events in Boston. • Tara Minor GFC won the London Under-14 Championship Gaelic Football final on 23 September, with CVMS represented by Terry Gallagher, Harry Cunningham, Joseph Thornton, Barnaby Stewart and Luke Morahan. The team are now London League, Championship and All Britain Champions winners.
Under-15 boys’ race. November • Fifth Form fencer Kajetan McDonnell represented British Fencing in the Camden GLL International Cadet Competition at the Copper Box Arena on 4 November, coming a very credible 11th out of 100 in the Under-17 individual competition. The following Sunday Kajetan represented the GBR B-team who finished 5th in the competition, beating teams from Japan and the USA before narrowly losing 44-45 to Spain. • Lower Sixth Form fencer Theodore McGlone has also enjoyed incredible success this term. Competing in his first international match on 11 November, Theodore won five bouts and lost
October • Rugby teams from across all year groups played against Wisbech Grammar School on 7 October at the School’s Playing Fields in Twickenham, with some excellent rugby displayed by both sides. • The CVMS Cross Country team won the Borough’s Mini Marathon Trials at Holland Park, with Casey Augustin winning the
two, being knocked out of the direct elimination part of the competition 15-14. The following day Theodore took part in a team event, captaining one of the GB teams against a strong Italian team (which came fourth overall) in the first round. • The First XI kicked off the football season with a 4-0 victory against Bishop Challoner in the Inner London Cup on 29 November. • The First XV enjoyed its most successful season since the sport was introduced to Cardinal Vaughan, only narrowly losing 13-15 to Enfield Grammar after reaching the Middlesex Plate Finals at Allianz Park. December • After beating Cardinal Wiseman and Enfield Grammar for the first time in three years, the Under-14 Rugby team also qualified for the Middlesex Plate Final at Allianz Park. Twenty-one boys represented the School on 1 December and, despite losing to a strong Fulham Boys School, the team put in an excellent performance and should be delighted with the progress they have made this season. Their next fixture will be on the 2018 Italy Tour. • The Vaughan played its first ever Eton Fives fixture against Berkhamsted School on 6 December. • The CVMS Cross Country team won the Cardinals Cup at Wormwood Scrubs, with Casey Augustin placed first in the Year 10 and 11 race, Joseph Lamb placed second in the Year 8 and 9 race and Isaac Fraser third in the Year 7 race. • The First XV hosted Ponent Rugby Club (Mallorca) on 8 December, which resulted in a great game won by the Vaughan 41-22. Don’t miss groundsman Mr Tanzos’s amazing drone footage of the game, available to watch via Twitter (@cvmssport) and Facebook (@CardinalVaughan). • On 9 December, the First XI had the privilege of hosting the annual fixture against Corinthian Casuals at the School Playing Fields. • The term culminated with a series of House competitions including Cross Country and Indoor Rowing Championships for pupils in the Lower School. The standard of indoor rowing far exceeded any previous years and all pupils should be incredibly proud of their efforts. Just over 450 pupils competed for their Houses and this resulted in an abundance of House Points for certain pupils. The individual champions were as follows: Victor Wojcik and Julian Cirilo (Joint First Form); Niles Toussaint (Second Form), James Rayner (Third Form) and Justin Henry (Fourth Form). Overall, More were crowned the 2017 House Rowing Champions!
Latest News from the Music Department Life in the Music Department has been very busy since September and the term has been characterised by a strong, positive approach to rehearsals with lots of lovely music-making as a consequence. There have been a number of concerts as always and numerous other events where the boys have been able to display their musical skills. It must be remembered of course that the concerts are only the visible aspect of what we do – rather like a swan (or maybe an iceberg is a better analogy!) as the energy that drives the music department is working away very hard under the surface whilst it appears to glide effortlessly across the water. The beating heart of this engine are the music class lessons – taught to a very good standard and taken very seriously by all the music teachers. Mr Jackson, as Head of Academic Music does great work in this aspect of the School’s musical life, as do Mr Harris and Mr Evans of course. Beyond the class lessons very many (more than 400) instrumental and singing lessons take place each week upstairs. The visiting instrumental staff are very strong and our pupils are very fortunate to have such
a talented and dedicated team of teachers. And looking after all of this of course is our administrator, Tanya Watkins. If you have been in communication with Miss Watkins you will I am quite sure have found her thoroughly helpful and supremely organised. Nothing is too much trouble for Tanya. We are very lucky to have her working with us. Very many thanks to all those involved in the music work at the School – I am truly fortunate to lead such a great team. We were all very pleased to learn the Department has been nominated for ‘Best School Music Department’ Award in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, to be decided in February. Fingers crossed that we might win and many thanks to the parents who I assume must have nominated us! There were two excellent Early Evening Recitals during the course of the term, the first in October given by the younger boys and the second in November by the older boys and girls. The second concert included a very good performance of Bach’s E major Violin concerto with Harry Fetherstonhaugh of the Fifth Form as
an excellent soloist. It was a different violinist, Molly McFadden of the Upper Sixth, who was soloist with Senior Strings at Speech Day, giving a strong performance of Spring from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Molly has made huge strides in her playing since joining the School and is now a very accomplished player. In October the Sixth Form Choir sang Evensong alongside the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, in the splendid setting of Merton Chapel. One of our former pupils is currently Organ Scholar there. This was a very lovely occasion and the choir sang very well indeed. The excellent standard of the Sixth Form Choir could be heard very clearly at the St Cecilia Concert in November when they sang music by Dyson. I have not heard the girls sing so strongly for many years – congratulations to them and to Mr Jackson for leading them with such skill.
been strong – I am very much looking forward to working with them next term. The Schola also sang in the St Cecilia concert, performing some items from the recent South Africa Tour, including a piece in Zulu entitled Ukuthula which came complete with (minimal!) choreography (or choralography as it is sometimes called). This may well have been a first for the Schola. The boys also sang Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer, not with one soloist as on our recent recording (which you can buy on iTunes) but with the treble solo duties shared between nine boys. It is great to have such depth of ability within the choir. Second Orchestra also performed very nicely that evening and Senior Strings performed the Vivaldi Concerto referred to above with Molly McFadden as soloist. Her performance quite rightly received a very warm reception. Earlier in the concert we also enjoyed the Concert Band in a medley of songs by Frank Sinatra which had everyone foot-tapping along. The main work of the evening though was Beethoven’s Mass in C, performed by School Choir, directed by Mr Jackson. Putting together these large-scale works with orchestra and big choir is not easy, especially in a very short time-frame, and Mr Jackson did a super job of bringing it all together on the day, as he had done teaching the work to the choir during the term. It was a very good performance with lots of solo singing from the pupils and an excellent, confident choral sound.
The St Cecilia concert at St Paul’s Hammersmith was a splendid occasion, very well attended by large numbers of parents as is so wonderfully the norm for Vaughan concerts – how lucky we are to enjoy such support. First Orchestra opened proceedings with a strong reading of the Karelia Suite by Sibelius. I am not sure why it has taken me 23 years to do this piece with the orchestra as it is a perfect fit and the orchestra greatly enjoyed learning and performing it. It featured our excellent horn section, with Joshua Schrijnen of the Fifth Form leading from the front, and also a really quite exquisite cor anglais solo from Oliviero Kelly of the Fourth Form. The Big Band played at the Bull’s Head in Barnes in October, entertaining a large crowd with a Oliviero had only picked up the cor anglais fun afternoon of swing and jazz tunes. They (a larger oboe) for the first time a few weeks also played at the Senior Citizens’ Christmas before and so his performance, which was so Party in December, giving the annual airing beautifully shaped and musical, was all the to the Big Band Christmas numbers we know more remarkable. First Orchestra has been in and love. Senior Brass were on good form excellent form this term and attendance has at the Vaughan’s Foundation Day Mass at
Westminster Cathedral in September and are also due to play music by Gabrieli at the start of Tuesday’s Carol Service. This will be the first time for a number of years that we have been able to get a group of Brass players together to play before the opening of the Service; I am very pleased with the determined way the boys have approached this music and grateful to Mr Gucklhorn who has taught them with great patience and fortitude. The Schola Cantorum has had a very strong term, the centre piece of which was the tour to South Africa which you can read about in the separate article. This was a wonderful experience for us all. The choir continues to sing each week at the School’s Mass and there have been several whole school occasions when it has sung too – Foundation Day Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Speech Day and Mass for the Feast of All Saints at Our Lady of Victories being three such instances. The choir has also been very busy outside School, singing for a Remembrance Day Evensong at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square in November and also travelling to Cambridge to give a joint Evensong in the famous chapel of St John’s College. There has been no opera work this term (that comes next term) but two of the boys, Aidan Cole and James Fernandes, sang the solo roles in The Magic Flute with the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, one performance of which was relayed live around the world. Towards the end of term
there have been numerous Carol Services, including one rather unusual evening when the trebles were at The National Liberal Club whilst the Tenors and Basses were entertaining at The Athenaeum Club. The younger boys also sang for the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea’s Carol Service, given in the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent. The boys got to meet Her Royal Highness afterwards, with the main topic of conversation being the wonderful fur coat she was wearing.
Rehearsals in the final weeks of term focused around the Carol Service and also Handel’s Messiah, which the Schola sang at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square in December. The boys just love singing Messiah and they know it well – we sang it last year too. The treble line in the Schola is especially Phone Box strong Premiereat the moment and the combination of these factors made for, if I can say so myself, a very strong performance, easily
the best concert I have given with the choir. There were very strong solo contributions from Aidan Cole, Sam Lyne-Hall, Joe Walshe, James Outtrim, Jaedon DeMello, Alessio D’Andrea, Karol Jozwik, Alex Gula, Benedykt ChodzkoZajko, Joseph Guzman Santamaria and Harold Ayres. We drew a very large audience and were very pleased as a result to be able to make a donation of £1000 to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital; one of the boys in the Schola has received treatment there for a number of years and it was lovely to be able to give the concert in support of the amazing work of that wonderful institution.
this term and especially in the past few weeks as Christmas has approached. I thank them for their efforts and also their parents for the invaluable support they provide.
So all in all a very good term’s work. Many thanks to all the parents, pupils and staff who have worked together to make it all possible. Next term is full of exciting events including the Big Band Evening, the annual collaboration with Southbank Sinfonia, a trip to York Minster for the Schola, our annual Music Competition and lots more besides. Do follow us on Twitter (@ cvmsmusic) and on Facebook (FB/cvmsmusic) to be kept up to date with the goings on on the The night before our performance of Messiah top floor! the younger boys were at St John’s, Smith Square, performing alongside the Gabrieli Mr Price Consort and conductor, Paul McCreesh, in a Director of Music performance of music by Praetorius, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This involved extensive singing in German as well as our more usual Latin, in quite exposed solo verses. The boys acquitted themselves very well in front of a large audience, including four boys, Aidan Cole, Sam Lyne-Hall, Joe Walshe and James Outtrim who sang very beautiful solos. Aidan opened the concert with a totally unaccompanied solo verse, hidden away at the back of St John’s. He is particularly fearless, though none of the boys appear fazed by these high pressure situations. They just get on with it! The Schola boys have all worked very hard
Schola Cantorum Tour of South Africa In October half-term the Schola travelled for the first time to South Africa. Whilst they were there Mr Price wrote the following account day-by-day, detailing their experiences. It was a clearly quite remarkable trip. Day 1: A few photos from an amazing first day in South Africa. Having arrived this morning on the red eye from Dubai, and having survived the challenges of immigration, we emerged into the heat of an African Spring day. Our superb guide for the week, Pieter Myburgh, met us and soon we were driving through central Johannesburg on our way to Soweto. Our first taste of African food came with Lunch at Robby’s, a famous Soweto Restaurant. We were served a beautiful meal called the seven colours, something you would normally only eat after Church on a Sunday. Our guide to Soweto, Sindy, then showed us various important landmarks in this city of 4 million people, including explaining the class system by which housing is designated. We visited the Tower where the 10 pillars of the South African Bill of Rights are written in stone and the boys did their first singing with an impromptu rendition of Ukuthula, the African Prayer we learnt for our trip.
We then visited the square dedicated to Hector Peterson, the 12 year old boy shot in the protests over schools teaching in Afrikaans in 1976. The boys appeared genuinely moved by the story of young people being shot for asking to be taught in a language they could understand – around 500 were killed on that June day in 1976 – and spent a few quiet minutes exploring the memorial monuments. We also paid a visit to Regina Mundi, the Catholic Church where we will sing for Mass tomorrow morning, and were shown bullet holes and the damaged altar table from the same period of violence in 1976. Having checked into our hotel and having had a much needed shower and rest we then headed out, through the most spectacular electrical storm any of us had ever seen, to our restaurant for dinner. This evening we ate in Carnivore, and the name tells you pretty much all you need to know. On the menu was alligator, zebra, warthog and kudo, as well as pork, chicken and beef. The boys were very keen to try everything! And now to bed as there is a very early start tomorrow....
Day 2 of our trip to South Africa began early with an excellent breakfast at our hotel before we headed out to sing at Regina Mundi in Soweto. Regina Mundi is the largest Catholic church in South Africa and holds some 2000 parishioners. It has played a famous role in South Africa’s history, as I described in yesterday’s post. We quickly rehearsed the music we would sing during the service, musical duties for which we would share with the church’s own choir. We also rehearsed the Psalm with their regular choir which we would sing with them in Zulu. And then the Mass began, with a wonderful procession accompanied by the most amazing music from the resident choir and congregation. The tone was set for a remarkable service. We sang our contributions – music by Victoria, Byrd and Grieg – which were all well received. Towards the end of the Mass, Father Anthony came forward to the choir and asked me to introduce us and tell everyone about our tour. I was delighted to say that this was our first stop and thanked everyone for their generous welcome. He then asked us to sing from the altar steps for the congregation and we sang music by Stanford and Bruckner. The warmth of the reception was really very moving. And then the Mass drew to a close, some two hours after it had begun. This really was the most remarkable and memorable of occasions and I am sure it will live long in the memories of the boys and staff alike. Afterwards there was the chance to take photos with the resident choir director and some of his choir and to exchange gifts before we finally left beautiful Soweto and hit the road for Pilanesberg. After lunch in a Wimpey on the way we continued on to our home for the next two days in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. The afternoon was spent playing football before dinner and a quiz. And then an early night as tomorrow morning we are up at 4.45 am – to head out on safari.
with everyone up and ready to go on safari! We had a cup of coffee and a rusk and then headed to the park where we loaded onto two trucks. Our tour guide, Pieter, had warned the boys that this was not a zoo and there was no guarantee that we would see many animals. But almost immediately on entering the park we came across a pair of rhinos and the slightly sleepy teenagers we had been with so far were immediately wide awake and filled with awe at the sight of these beautiful creatures. The rhino was busy marking its territory with spray. And the animals kept on coming – giraffes, zebra, kudo, elephants, impala, wildebeest, warthog, springbok, steenbok and many others. Then our wildlife guide and driver, Pule, heard on his radio that there were lions on the move and we raced to the area. There we watched two lions walking together, seemingly keeping a very close eye on some impala a little ahead of them. And then something very rare – one of the lions began to roar. This amazing sound left you in no doubt as to the power of these animals. With our morning drive completed we returned to the hotel and got ready to go swimming at the Valley of the Waves complex at Sun City – South Africa’s Las Vegas which is very close to where we were staying. The water park has a machine that generates a two metre-high wave every few minutes and the boys had great fun with that and with the water slides.
Then we returned to the Game Reserve for our evening drive. At first it seemed quiet – our driver was searching for leopards. Then word came that one had been seen and we raced to the place. And there, sauntering along the roadside, was a leopard. Our second vehicle arrived and in a remarkable moment the leopard passed under the younger boys’ lorry. Some amazing photos were taken. This kind of close contact with the very shy leopard is highly unusual – we were being very lucky. Day 3 of our South Africa tour began at 5 am Our luck was not finished. Just a few minutes www.cvms.co.uk 27
later our expert drivers found three cheetahs, crossing the road. One became separated and the other two called and waited for their companion. This was all happening ten feet from us and it continued for five minutes or so. So remarkable was this that our guides were even taking photos! It was just beautiful. There were so many other wonderful sightings too. We were just so lucky. Pieter said that this was easily the best day’s big game watching he had ever had at Pilanesberg. To get close contact with the three big cats, and for them to be so active, not just sleeping, was highly unusual. By this time there had been the most spectacular sunset. We were driven down some serious dirt tracks and in complete darkness, other than the lights of the lorries, but eventually there were a few lights in the distance… a big campfire then came into sight; this was where we were to have dinner. We were in the heart of the Reserve, with no fences between us and the animals, hence the need for an armed guard! Dinner was served and, like all the food we have had since we arrived, it was superb. And then the boys sat around the campfire and – with mixed musical success! – sang songs. We returned to the hotel and very tired but very happy boys went quickly to bed. I have run choir tours for about 20 years now but this was the greatest day I have ever known on a trip. So many thanks to Walter and Pule, who were our expert guides, and to Pieter, Julia and everyone at ACFEA for arranging such a memorable day. Days 4 and 5 of our trip have seen us travel down from Johannesburg to George and the famous Garden Route. Early on Tuesday morning we travelled back to Tambo Airport, said an emotional farewell to our driver, Simon, and then boarded our Kulula Air flight to George. This entirely green plane flew us,
with a suitably African sense of time-keeping, down to George, and we checked into our new hotel. There was time to explore the local mall for lunch before we headed out for our first concert of the tour. The concert was to be given with the South Cape Children’s Choir at St Mark’s Cathedral in George. This beautiful brown stone cathedral, consecrated in 1850, was a perfect setting for the concert and we sang to a large and appreciative audience. Our host choir sang first, very beautifully, and demonstrating also the fabulous sense of movement that accompanies almost all singing in South Africa. We then sang a selection of music, finishing with Ukuthula, the African Prayer we learnt for the trip, before both choirs combined for a performance of Mozart’s Ave Verum. We were very grateful to all those who came to listen and it was a very enjoyable concert to sing. Our organist, Mr Evans once again coped admirably with the challenge of playing a new instrument at the other end of the cathedral from the choir – and, as it turned out in the concert, in the dark! Dinner at a local pizza place ended a very lovely day. Day 5 was a rest day and we spent it at an Ostrich Farm in Outschoorn and at the world famous Cango Caves complex. To get to the Ostrich Farm we were driven on our coach through the mountains that surround George. Our tour leader, Pieter, explained that a remarkable geographical phenomenon in the area means that whilst George is lush, and green, from plenty of rain, just the other side of the mountain is semi-desert, quite the most spectacular change of landscape you are ever likely to see. The Outeniqua Mountains, which surround George, provided the most spectacular backdrop to our drive. Pieter pointed out some very interesting geological facts about the rock formations along the side of the road.
On our arrival in Outschoorn, we went to the Ostrich Farm. After a talk about the history of Ostrich farming we were shown the incubators where they hatch the huge eggs. And then the boys met the ostriches, feeding them and were even given a massage by the giant birds! We then travelled to the Cango Caves, South Africa’s most impressive cave complex. We all toured the first chambers, including the spectacular main hall, and then most of us headed for the Adventure Tour which involved four challenges: Lumbago Passage was very low and involved stooping and crawling for 20 metres whilst the Tunnel of Love was very narrow. But the main challenge was the Devil’s Chimney, which involved climbing up a very narrow tunnel for about 3 metres and the Letterbox, a very narrow gap that you had to effectively post yourself through – this was not easy for those of us who resemble parcels rather than letters, and I had to come out head first, but still managed to maintain great dignity in front of the boys. I think we can best describe these activities as ‘bonding’. The boys loved it.
again was excellent - and we finished the evening by singing for the restaurant staff. Next stop, Cape Town.... Days 6 and 7 of our Tour have seen us explore the most beautiful city of Cape Town. Day 6, Thursday, began with an early breakfast in George and then the long drive to Cape Town. Pieter wasn’t going to let us leave the Indian Ocean behind though without getting close to it and the boys first enjoyed an exhilarating ten minutes dipping their toes into its warm waters.
We were soon back on the road and heading into Cape Town where we checked into our fourth and final hotel. A quick turn around was needed so that we could go to the Hugo Lampbrechts Hall, the venue for our second concert of the tour. This is a very beautiful hall with superb acoustics. We rehearsed with our hosts, the lovely choirs of CBC St Johns Parklands School and then ran through some of our own repertoire. A lasagne tea was kindly provided to keep us going – I am bringing back a rather fatter choir than the one I took away! Then the return journey to George and dinner – before we sang the concert. There was some in a beautiful restaurant looking out onto a strong singing from the Schola in a programme rather stormy Indian Ocean. The food once of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Handel and Fauré.
Following the concert we went to a local mall for another edition of Man Versus Food. The Lower Sixth are currently in the lead on the eating front. We awoke on Friday, Day 7, to find that Cape Town’s famous winds were blowing strongly. Table Mountain and Robben Island were closed and we would have to rethink our day. But first we were heading to what I was confident would be a highlight of our trip – a workshop with the choir of Phandulwazi High School, a secondary government high school in Cape Flats, the huge Township on the outskirts of Cape Town. On our arrival we were taken to a large classroom where we were met by around one hundred of their pupils, all of whom were very pleased to see us – the Schola being greeted like rock stars is not something we are really used to. Their choir then sang for us and the reason why we had come became very clear as they filled the room with the enormous operatic sound with which they sing – learned from their teacher, Vice Principal, Phume Tsewu. Phume is something of a legendary figure in South African choral music – his success with his previous School was such that the BBC filmed a documentary about it and the choir came to
England on tour. Now in this new School he is working his magic once again, taking young people whose lives are very challenging and giving them beauty, aspiration and joy through singing. It is so moving to see. After they had sung for us, we sang for them. Their response was lovely – they react to moments in the music they particularly like so any high moments from the trebles or strong bass phrases would be met with waved fingers – a silent clap – and also a real sense of excitement. And then the choirs combined, learning a song from Phume that involved both sung clicks and finally movement. There is a video of this! I had visited this school last year when I first came to South Africa with Richard Savage of ACFEA, our travel company. That morning had stayed with me all year and it was wonderful to have the boys there, seeing and hearing what I had first experienced. As Phume explained, although the children at the school were poor financially, they are rich in every other aspect of life. Culturally, they are certainly rich – the piece they performed for this year’s National Choir Competition was Bach’s Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, all learnt by heart, without the use of music. Amazing. There was great excitement as we left, with the two choirs www.cvms.co.uk 31
talking together happily. I am so grateful that making sure that everyone experiences the they were able to invite us to their school and I amazing views. am confident we will see this choir again. Once at the top, we were able to enjoy the Leaving Cape Flats, we travelled to Haut Bay and most amazing vantage point over the whole picked up the boat to Seal Island. The waters of Cape Town and the Bay, just breath-taking were quite rough and the risk assessment in its beauty. Pieter, our guide, gave the boys seemed strangely inadequate all of a sudden! a talk on the geography of the area using a 3 But we made it to the Island, saw the seals dimensional map and also explained about the doing their thing, and then came back all in extraordinary variety of flora found in this part one piece – the captain asked us to sing as we of the world. We gathered for a group photo entered the harbour which we did. Then on to and then the boys spent a little time taking in the coach and a journey down to Cape Point. It the extraordinary vista. was blowing a gale when we got there but we were able to get the photo we’ve wanted, the Soon we were off on our travels again, heading Schola by the Cape of Good Hope sign. to see the penguins on Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. It is rare for penguins to Then back to Cape Town and dinner at the establish a colony on the mainland but these magical Gold Restaurant. This restaurant penguins have done just that and it is now a brings food from all across Africa together in a major tourist attraction. After the boys had tapas style meal, whilst you’re entertained by spent a while happily observing the behaviour brilliant dancers and singers at the table-side. of these beautiful creatures we went to a local And just to add to the fun, a middle aged lady restaurant for a very good fish and chip lunch. from another table, who was clearly having a Then back to the hotel and a quick change as very good evening, also joined in with great that evening we were to sing for Mass at St gusto. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Cape Town. We arrived in good time to rehearse, preparing Two more amazing days, full of the most the Psalm and other service music alongside extraordinary variety, beauty, grace and the settings we would sing, and then took our spectacle. What will tomorrow bring? places in the Cathedral. Formally known as the ‘Cathedral of Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt’, Day 8 of our trip to South Africa, Saturday, St Mary’s is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in dawned sunny and most importantly without South Africa, first consecrated in 1851. Father the strong winds of the previous day. This Rohan, our celebrant, had been very helpful meant that we would be able to get up to in the preparation of our visit and it was good the top of Table Mountain. We had breakfast to meet him and to be back on more familiar early and were at the mountain not long after territory in a more conventional Catholic 8 am, but this did not mean we had avoided liturgy, which we enjoyed very much. the queues. With the mountain having been closed the previous three days there was now After the service we went to Victoria Harbour a backlog of people wanting to ascend and where in a wonderful restaurant called The we had no choice but to join a long line. The Greek Fisherman we ate the final dinner of time passed quickly though and soon we were our tour. The quality of the food the whole approaching the cable cars that take you the week had been remarkable and this was no final 700 metres to the top. Each car holds 68 exception. On returning to the hotel some people and the floor revolves as it ascends, thanks and gifts were exchanged in the usual
end of tour way – I expressed my gratitude to the staff and also to Pieter, our guide, who was a joy to work with from start to finish. I was also very grateful to the boys who had arranged gifts for the staff, and was particularly pleased to receive a stuffed zebra – just what I have always wanted!
fuelled the whole trip in the most remarkable way. And then finally the return journey home, some 16 hours on two planes, via Dubai. The boys were on very good form right to the end I took particular pleasure in us arriving back at School at precisely 2 pm, as planned! Not bad for a 9000+ mile journey.
Not that we were finished, as the following morning Day 9, we were to sing at St George’s Cathedral, the Anglican Cathedral of Cape Town. We gathered again very early and were at the Cathedral before 8.30 am, having packed all our cases onto the coach. There was quite a bit of service music to prepare and time also for a quick rehearsal in the beautiful cathedral. And then the service began, with a rather grand procession which for once the boys managed to complete without incident. We sang the Mozart Mass setting we had prepared and the boys were in very fine voice, despite it being the very end of the trip. Music by Grieg and Byrd completed our contribution. What may well live longest in the memories of the boys from this service was a rather spectacular, and very long, sermon, from a visiting preacher, which employed a kind of dramatic oratorical approach that we don’t very often, if at all, see in England. The priest was preaching from the same pulpit that Nobel Peace Prize winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu had many times stood in to rail against the evils of Apartheid. The service lasted more than two hours, but once it was completed and we had taken some photographs, we headed off, first to a spot where we could get a photo of the Schola with the Apostles Mountain range in the background, and then back to Victoria Harbour, where the boys had the chance for a final lunch and last minute shopping. Then on to the bus for the last time and to Cape Town airport. We said emotional farewells to Yohannis, our driver, and to Pieter, our Tour Guide. We owed them both a huge debt of gratitude, especially Pieter, whose enthusiasm, energy and love for his wonderful country had
I am not sure how to sum up the past ten days, such has been the breadth and variety of our experiences. South Africa enjoys extraordinary natural resources and we have seen the most spectacular landscapes, amazing wildlife, beautiful flora, and enjoyed wonderful food. But the most striking thing has surely been the amazing people we have met, from so many different traditions, speaking so many different languages, some rich, some poor. And all united by one thing, their love for singing, and the great joy they have taken from listening to us sing and from singing themselves. Huge thanks once again to the teachers who accompanied us on the trip for giving up their half-term to allow the boys this opportunity, and very many thanks to the boys themselves for being such good travel companions. I look forward to the next time we can sing Ukuthula on South African soil - I don’t think it will be too many years before we are back in Africa. Mr Price Trip Leader and Director of Music
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