A large proportion of our pupils are involved in extra curricular musical activities, the rehearsals for which take place at lunchtimes.
Our ethos in this regard is that such activities across the year groups develop confidence in the individual and provide an opportunity for pupils to aspire to high standards in an area outside the usual school subjects.
Director of Music – Stewart Smith
The Choir is one example of the high standard achieved by Abbey Gate’s pupils in extra-curricular activities and in particular Music. Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir was formed in 1983 by its current Director of Music, Stewart Smith. It began as a Chamber Choir of 15 members which has now expanded to a membership of over 60.
As Chester Cathedral has no choir school Abbey Gate College is amongst a group of schools fortunate to benefit from educating some of the boy and girl choristers with the obvious advantages such they have in choral singing which is a great asset to the Chapel Choir. In addition to two annual school services at Christmas and Passiontide, held in Chester Cathedral, the Choir gives regular concerts and sings for services in the local area as well as further afield.
The Choir has toured Holland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, the Czech Republic, Northern Italy including Venice, Belgium and the USA on two occasions. The choir has sung Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral, London annually since 1990 and will return there on April 16th 2012. The Choir has sung in most major English Cathedrals on summer tours over the past 26 years. The most recent tours abroad were undertaken in July 2009 to Northern Italy and Venice and included a performance in St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. This was followed in 2010 by a tour of Belgium. In the summer of 2011 the Choir sang five Evensongs at Westminster Abbey, London. In July 2012 a similar tour will take place to Norwich Cathedral.
In 2011 the Choir produced its 6th CD. All CD’s are always available from the Director of Music and at all Concerts.
There are a number of Educational Visits as well as numerous extra curricular musical activities for pupils to get involved with;
There are 70 singers in the choir some of whom are current and ex Cathedral Choristers. The choir rehearses twice a week and gives at least four performances per term. These performances include two services a year in Chester Cathedral for the whole school and an evensong in St Paul’s Cathedral London once a year at Easter. Each summer the choir has a tour either abroad or to an English Cathedral. These tours have included the Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium and Westminster Abbey.
Young Voices Choir
This group of Year 7 pupils rehearses once a week and as well as the main purpose being a training choir for the Chapel Choir it performs at many school events and concerts throughout the year. It is directed by the singing teacher Mr Hartwell-Jones.
The band rehearses once a week and performs at events in and out of school several times a year. Any pupil from about grade 3 standard is invited to join. The band is directed by the brass teacher Mr Lewis.
The String ensemble has been running for two years and has now started giving performances at school events. The aim is that this will build into a small string orchestra over time. It is directed by viola player Mrs Goodwin.
This is a small dance band which meets weekly and is in demand to play at various social functions which has recently included the City of Chester Citizenship Ceremony.
This ensemble has taken over from ‘The 8ight’ which ran successfully for two years with a group of 6th formers. Octavo is lead by 6th former Thomas Coxhead and specializes in early sacred choral music.