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Norwich School Blog

Reflections on Vespers

Old Norvicensian Simon Eades (63-72) writes for the blog about the upcoming Norwich School Choral Society concert in association with the London Mozart Players. Tickets are available from the School's online ticket site

In a months time I will sing bass in the Norwich School Choral Society performing "Vespers" by Richard Allain in St Andrew's Hall in a concert which includes the following:

The Norwich School Choral Society will be performing in association with the London Mozart Players

Gloria                                                                                               Vivaldi

Adagio for strings                                                                             Barber

Ave Verum                                                                                       Mozart

Vespers                                                                                              Allain


How did I get here?


Fifteen years ago in September 2002 I returned to the School Chapel to sing in the weekly rehearsals of the Norwich School Choral Society. These Wednesday evening rehearsals became an oasis of calm in what was, at that time, a busy time for me and I did so because I wanted to do something different.

My first performance with the Norwich School Choral Society, consisting entirely of boys, was in March 1966 when, we performed Eric Thiman's "Songs of England" at the UEA Lecture Theatre. The following year we performed four choruses from The Creation by Haydn a work I was to perform many years later.

Since the 1960s the range and quality of the musical abilities in the School has improved as each year passes and this is due in no small part to the superb efforts of the Music Department under Colin Dowdeswell who was appointed as Director of Music in 1983. Colin passed the baton to Richard Allain in 2010.

Shortly after his arrival Colin established The Norwich School Adult Choral Society in 1983 and the first concert under this new identity took place on Friday 2nd March 1984 in Norwich Cathedral. The works performed were Faure's Requiem and Haydn's Te Deum. In recent years the annual concert moved to St Andrew's Hall.

Under Richard's direction the Choral Society has continued to evolve on a journey of exploration and in this time the Choral Society has performed works by composers as diverse as Bernstein, Rutter, Britten, Faure and Handel.

In 2016 the Choral Society performed highlights from Les Miserables, music from James Bond and some operatic arias as a complete contrast and a change in direction with David Dunnett providing the accompaniment on the piano.

Following last year's concert Richard, an accomplished composer of modern music in addition to his role as Director of Music, shared his thoughts with a few members of the Choral Society. He decided that we would be able to perform one of his works.

Since September we have been on a voyage of discovery learning to perform "Vespers", a work he composed in 2011. Rehearsals in the School Chapel - a stimulating environment on a cold Wednesday January evening - are proving to be a challenge and are hard work but enjoyable. They are turning into "Ask the composer" as we try to interrogate the dynamic of this challenging work!!!!!!!!

I have been asked on many occasions why I keep coming back each year.

  • The joy of singing great works


  • To spend time with like minded individuals. Some of the adult singers have been in the Society for twenty years. There are some ONs in the male voices including some former Cathedral Choristers. Past and present members of staff, including two previous Headmasters, have sung with the Choral Society


  • To sing with great soloists who return year after year. In 2003 and 2010 James Rutherford ON returned to take the Bass Soloist years after performing with the Choral Society when at School


  • The prospect and expectation of performing on the same stage as the school pupils of the highest musical quality cannot be described in words. It is a sheer pleasure and has to be heard to be appreciated. Singing with skilled musical pupils is a joy


  • This concert is one of the few occasions when pupils, parents and Friends of the School take part together and there is a feeling of great satisfaction at the end of each concert


    And now............................................................................................


  • The opportunity to perform a work by a living composer who has demonstrated his infectious enthusiasm to the pupils and others


    It is going to be a wonderful evening. The Singers will be joined by the London Mozart Players at what will be one of the first benefits of a musical collaboration with the London Mozart players. This will allow musicians at the School and beyond to benefit from the opportunities to collaborate and gain the positive benefits of working with this internationally renowned group.

    Please do come and join us. It will be a night to remember and do get your tickets as soon as possible for a wonderful evening.

    The singers have put a lot of hard work and the prospect of singing three works with a performance by the London Mozart Players.


    Gloria                                                                                               Vivaldi

    Adagio for strings                                                                             Barber

    Ave Verum                                                                                       Mozart

    Vespers                                                                                              Allain