On Tuesday 4 July there was cause for double celebration for present and past pupils at Abbey Gate College.
The summer term ended with a Celebration Gala Concert as the school completes its first 40 years from its opening in 1977. As part of this celebration, 75 past choir members joined the current choir producing a spectacular sound of 140 voices. The Concert was directed by Stewart Smith who is retiring after 39 and a half years as Director of Music. During this time he has led a thriving music department with its flagship being the internationally famous Chapel Choir.
Following the choir's first trip in 1984 to sing in Gloucester Cathedral, the choir has sung in most English cathedrals which includes 25 times at London's St Paul's Cathedral, where they will return to in April 2018. Numerous choir tours abroad have been undertaken including France, Belgium (Menin Gate), St Mark's Venice, Germany, Italy, Holland, Denmark and the west and east coast of the USA on two occasions .
Under Stewart's direction, many pupils have progressed to music conservatoires and music courses at university to then take up careers in opera, music production and Cathedral Music. Stewart is organist and choirmaster at St Oswald's Parish Church in Malpas where he has built up a 30 strong choir which he is looking forward to continuing with in his retirement.
Former Chairman of Abbey Gate College's Governors, David Weir, said: "Over these 40 years he has created an exceptional musical reputation for the College which we are grateful for and very proud of. It is the envy of many schools and we will continue to build on this for years to come."
The new Head of Music will be James Andrews who, as well as being a former pupil of the College, is an ex-Head Chorister of Chester Cathedral and a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire. He begins his post in September 2017.
For videos of the night's performances go to our YouTube channel.
Published: Thursday, 6th July 2017