The Choral development at St John’s Beaumont School under Mr Hope, creates a lifeblood of musical wealth and depth that enhances all aspects of school life.

As a positive step towards the growth of Choral studies at SJB, the Academic year began on an exciting note by welcoming a new Assistant Head of Choral Music, Ms Sarah Burston.

In spite of the challenges of lockdown, the boys have had weekly rehearsals as small groups of choristers.

In December, the boys enjoyed a day of being recorded by professional videographer Graham Instrall, who produced a video to accompany the Chapel Choir recording of ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. The Chapel Choir also filmed and recorded several items for the school’s virtual Carol Service last December thanks to a joint effort by all music staff.

Watch The Holly and the Ivy performance

As we moved into the New Year, with the increased lockdown parameters, all choral provisions moved online, with an action-packed schedule of rehearsals and new choral musicianship workshops created by Mr Hope.

Please enjoy the following account by our Head Chorister of life in the St John’s Beaumont Chapel Choir.

My Journey in the SJB Chapel Choir 
by Maximillian S

“I Joined the Chapel Choir at the beginning of year 6, and it all started with an audition in the school music block, where we would sit in an orderly line and wait for our turn. I was feeling a little nervous, but I was also ready for a new challenge. I managed to be selected as a member of the Chapel Choir by Mr Hope. I still remember I was incredibly happy when I received the acceptance letter.

Although I always loved singing, choral singing was pretty alien to me. We started the routine practice, sometimes it took place early in the morning, but Mr Hope guided us through the music notes, singing techniques, etc. I was picking up the knowledge and really getting to know the world of choir singing and choral music. We then started to perform for school family Mass and Christmas Carol service, and I was feeling very privileged when I got to put a surplice on for the first time. 

Throughout the following years, we had great opportunities, for example, to sing at the chapel of Hampton Court Palace and St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. I remember the excitement when Mr Hope announced that we will sing in Hampton court, as it was our first trip, and it is in a Royal Palace. I was mesmerized by the coloured glass and the grandness of the chapel. I remember the performance in St George Chapel as we also got to sing there with St Aloysius school from Scotland. We only did a few rehearsals with them, but when the moment came, we did a fantastic job together. Having the opportunity to perform in these prestigious chapels with expert guidance is not an opportunity that happens every day. I increasingly enjoy singing beautiful music to an audience.

Miss Burston joined the school Chapel Choir at the beginning of year 8. I enjoyed the time getting to know her and will never forget the day after the rehearsal when Miss Burston asked me to stay behind and told me I had been selected to be the Head Chorister, I was over the moon and felt proud. With the title comes responsibility; I need to be on time for every rehearsal to show leadership by setting an example and be as organised and helpful as possible to assist Miss Burston to make sure each rehearsal was running smoothly. 

Then Coronavirus came, it has been affecting everyone’s life all around the world for over a year now, but it did not stop us from singing: we were doing choir rehearsals with social distancing in school when possible, the streamed carol service last Christmas was a whole new experience for all of us, it just showed us how much technology can do these days, I had so much fun filming it.

From the beginning of this term, due to the recent lockdown, we were only able to do online singing which is also a unique experience. I felt happy and energized after each rehearsal or workshop and was always looking forward to the next one. Particularly during such challenging times, singing has given me a focus and the Chapel Choir has been a source of strength.

It has brought us together, lifted our spirits and worked as a social community during this isolated time. It certainly has an incredibly positive effect on our mental health.

The Chapel Choir experience has instilled me with a sense of confidence, it has taught me time management (big time), “professionalism” and it has taught me how much one person contributes to something so much bigger. I really loved my time in the Chapel Choir, and I enjoyed the privilege of performing and studying music during my journey.

I would like to thank Mr Hope and Miss Burston for leading me this far in the chapel choir. I will surely cherish this time for the rest of my life.

Find out more about Creative & Performing Arts at SJB