Junior School Choir pupils perform at the Gulbenkian Theatre

On Monday evening 18 pupils from the Lower and Upper Junior School Choirs were fortunate enough to take part in a performance of The Ballads of Child Migration at the Gulbenkian Theatre. Since receiving critical acclaim at the BBC Radio Two Folk Awards in 2017, the work is touring the UK – and St Edmund’s were lucky enough to feature as the children’s choir for Monday’s performance in Canterbury! The piece is narrated by Barbara Dixon and tells the moving and appalling story of child migrants between 1869 and 1976.

Our pupils, dressed as Victorian children, appeared in two songs, making their way confidently up onto the stage to stand in front of the professional musicians and singers. The cast and production team were extremely impressed with not only their singing, but their poise and stage technique, many commenting that they were the highlight of the evening! As we were booked to appear fairly late in the day, the tickets had unfortunately already sold out, but one parent managed to secure a last minute cancellation and was able to see it. This was her impression of the evening:

“It was an incredibly heart-tugging performance with the harmony of the children’s voices rising above the spirited and wistful folk music. The children, dressed as migrants, stood boldly at the front of the stage and sang with complete devotion. Behind them, the dramatic backdrop of black and white slides depicting the young migrants was poignant. I was so impressed with the professionalism of the children, they were outstanding and should all be very proud of themselves.” (Helen, mum to George Gannon in Year 6)

The children had an enjoyable evening; working with talented musicians, making the best of the long evening squeezed into our fairly cramped dressing room without a single complaint (fuelled by tasty treats from the production team!) and listening to Mrs Thyssen’s animated story-reading. I was incredibly proud of each and every member of the choir, they were fantastic ambassadors for St Edmund’s and will hopefully have long-lasting memories of this unique experience!

My sincere thanks go to Mrs Thyssen and Ms Martin-Smith for their support and help with this project.

Catherine Futcher