A visit by musicians from Rossall School

On a Sunday last month St Paul’s were privileged to host a visit by the musicians of Rossall School, Fleetwood, who gave us a stimulating lunchtime concert. What a pity that not more of our regular congregation were present to witness the talent displayed – and we learned after the event that the senior musicians of the group had not been allowed to make the trip as the proximity of serious examinations made further revision necessary.

However, those who made the visit gave us a most enjoyable and worthwhile presentation with a variety of skills displayed which ranged over a wide range of composers, from Bach to Anthony Newley.  Our piano was well used and we also heard the cello and the clarinet, plus a wonderfully rendered Robert Schumann solo sung in German. All the soloists performed with confidence, enthusiasm and clarity, and it was a pleasure to receive and hear them. Our thanks go to Adam Dobson, the Teacher of Music, and his assistant, Georgia, for their work and skills and in giving up their Sunday to make the trip north.

Rossall has a rich musical tradition – Sir Thomas Beecham amongst others – and the final piano soloist, a young Ukrainian with just a year in the UK to his name, has already been accepted for further studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.  The school possesses 21 Steinway grand pianos and is home to an International Piano Academy.

Later, a larger number of musicians comprising the school chapel choir led Choral Evensong.   The Revd. Jonathan Brewster presided, with Charles Edmondson on the organ  – a further wonderful experience for the benefice.  Particular thanks go to Richard Rhodes, former pupil at Rossall who later returned as Headmaster until his retirement.  Richard is currently churchwarden at St Mary’s, Staveley, and arranged the visit.  Thanks also go to Jeremy Quartermain, Headmaster of Rossall, for allowing the trip (and singing in the choir).  We look forward to welcoming their further visits for additional artistic experiences.

And how uplifting it was to be in St Paul’s on a Sunday evening and to hear the swell of young voices filling the building.  Evensong is a favourite service for many of us who miss the fact that it is no longer offered as a regular part of our worship.  “The office of Evensong has played a prominent part in the life of the church since the Reformation.  Cranmer’s original Book of Common Prayer of 1549 established the classic pattern for the Anglican Office of psalm-lesson-canticle-lesson-canticle.  This pattern survived all the liturgical revision and upheavals and was reiterated in the definite 1662 version.”

It was indeed a treat to hear it sung by the 30+ strong Chapel Choir of Rossall School.  It was also fascinating to have the opportunity of talking to some of the young people, learning about their plans for the future.  Jo who sang the versicles had taken time off from revising for an exam the following Wednesday.  He is hoping to read History at Durham.  There were two boys from the Ukraine who had been at the school for just over 12 months.  One of them lived in Kiev and recalled hearing the first of the bombs to hit the city.  He was on one of the first crowded trains to leave for Austria with his mother and siblings, while his father stayed behind to fight.