Despite the fact that my TV has been full of Christmas ads since what feels like mid-October, it’s the Churchill Academy & Sixth Form Christmas Concerts that always mark the start of the festive season for me. The tinsel-wrapped instruments, a few festive tunes and (of course!) the nativity story told in song by the massed Junior Choir all help bring the Christmas cheer. It’s the first time I allow my Christmas jumper an outing (I have a new Taylor Swift themed number for 2022!), and our Academy tree is always decked in reception once the concerts have taken place.
One of my favourite things about this year’s Christmas Concerts was the growing role of student leadership in the performing arts. The show was compered brilliantly by Year 13 students Lois and Will, and the acts included orchestras led and conducted by students, playing music arranged by students. We had a sneak preview of next week’s Year 7-9 production of Grease – the musical, which is completely led by our Sixth Form performing arts students – direction, choreography, musical direction, and organisation. I was privileged to be backstage this year, to see the backstage crew running an exceptionally tight ship under the direction of Year 13 student, Megan. And, of course, the 200+ strong Junior Choir were singing songs written by our youngest students, choreographed expertly (and enthusiastically!) by Sixth Form leaders Oliver and Mair.
It wasn’t too long ago that singing in schools was limited by public health guidance, which severely disrupted our ability to run choirs and ensembles. We are delighted to see the music performance pathways opened up again, with the new Soul Band wowing the crowd and the Year 7-9 choir making a beautiful sound. Instrumental music continues to be a strength, with two orchestras, Concert Band, flute group, our Brass Monkeys brass group, a saxophone quartet, Jazz Band and the Sixth Form Band all giving great performances, alongside solos from the three finalists from the Junior Young Musician of the Year earlier this term: Lucas, Emilia and the overall winner, Olivia.
We were pleased to pack out the Playhouse for two nights – even though FIFA had scheduled the England vs Wales World Cup tie to clash with the first night – and we hope that audiences were left as uplifted and festive as our staff and students were. I’m still singing the incredibly catchy Junior Choir songs…and I’m sure I’m not the only one!