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This year, the Cecilia James Company Music Festival and Shout ran in a slightly different way to enable us to follow the precautions needed in these odd times of living in a pandemic. The event, however, did not lose any of its excitement, and the relentless rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the girls. The afternoon classes took place more or less as usual with the solo rounds. Our adjudicator this year was Paul Turner, a renowned pianist, who taught at St Mary’s for a short while a few years ago. He was impressed by the high standard of solo performances across the afternoon and inevitably found it a challenge to pick a winner from each class.

The first three classes of the day were taken by Ed Rich, beginning with the Rock and Pop Class (a new category this year). Polly was the winner of this category with her beautiful version of Bob Dylan’s Make you Feel my Love. The Vocal Class followed with a wide variety of styles, from musical theatre to German lieder. This year, Izzy won with an expressive account of Defying Gravity from Wicked. The brass class was won by Megan playing Trumpet Voluntary by William Boyce.

Each Company rose to the challenge of arranging and rehearsing their own Instrumental Ensembles and the arrangements and performances showed skill and dedication. Poore began the class with Human by The Killers, then Moberly followed with Toxic by Britney Spears. Grosstête opted for Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead and Ed Rich treated us to Married Life from the animated film Up. On this occasion Osmund triumphed with the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs to Love Somebody.

The Solo Classes continued with woodwind and Tessa once again gave Osmund a winning performance. Strings was won by Bo who amazed with an energetic rendition of Tarentella which she clearly enjoyed playing judging from the smile on her face! The Anna Robert’s Piano Cup was taken by Lydia, who played Rosemary’s Waltz with sensitivity.

For the evening event we had split venues in order to safely accommodate the five companies, with screens to livestream to each other. The evening kicked off at Southwell Hall with the Vocal Ensembles. Complete with volcano, Moberly delighted us with Pompeii and then Grosstête went Country and Western with Jolene. Later, back at the Chapel, Osmund performed Angel Eyes, Poore sang Let it Be and Ed Rich took the Cup with Valerie. The finalists of the afternoon classes competed for the Cecilia James Cup, with polished performances from every girl. Congratulations to Polly who claimed the prize this year with a rounded and heartfelt performance of her song.

Rather than a live Shout this year, the girls had been asked to make a music video of their songs. Since the return to school, there have been sightings of many strangely clad groups of girls in unexpected places recording their numbers!

Under their chosen theme of the Noughties, the heads of company had rehearsed, choreographed, recorded and edited their videos which were then viewed on the ‘big screen’ during the evening.

The results didn’t disappoint and there were five very entertaining Shouts. Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus) was Grosstête’s offering in which they used good vocal range and energetic moves. Osmund impressed with the clever use of a green screen giving it a true pop video feel with their rendition of So What (P!nk). Poore again displayed some excellent singing with a comedic element, there were even some staff cameo roles in their choice of Forget You (CeeLo Green). Ed Rich gave us some skateboarding moves and good storytelling in their upbeat video of Sk8ter Boi (Avril Lavigne). Perhaps swayed by the inflatable polar bear, but also in no small measure by the singing and dynamic range, in the end it was Moberly’s cover of Grace Kelly (Mika) that clinched the Shout prize.

Once the final marks were tallied, the overall Festival winner of the day was Osmund. Congratulations to all the prize-winners.

Mrs Rachel Allard, Music Teacher (Singing)