Tonbridge school choir's ‘heart and soul’ dazzles Songs of Praise

HIGH PRAISE; The Motet choir performs on BBC1's Songs of Praise Young Choir of the Year

Tonbridge school choir's ‘heart and soul’ dazzles Songs of Praise

by Andy Tong | 30th May 2019

THE Motet choir of Tonbridge Grammar School [TGS] reached the semi-finals of the Songs of Praise Young Choir of the Year competition, which was shown on BBC1 on Sunday May 26.

Their rendition of the gospel song The Storm Is Passing Over impressed the three judges but the stunning performance was not quite enough to see them through to the final.

In the senior section they were up against another Kent grammar, Rochester, whose NChant choir did make the final, alongside Tring Park in Hertfordshire and Francis Holland Senior Chamber Choir.

The event in Bolton’s Victoria Hall was hosted by Aled Jones with a judging panel consisting of former JLS star JB Gill, tenor Russell Watson and TV presenter and vocal coach Carrie Grant.

Motet made the final five out of hundreds of choirs from across the country. They are led by Adrian Pitts, TGS assistant headteacher, who started the group 27 years ago.

'Everyone’s been through hard times but it’s about getting through it together as a community and as a sisterhood'

“I’ve been really lucky with this choir,” said Mr Pitts, who is retiring at the end of term. “Young people don’t always get a very positive press.

“Choral music is one of those things where it’s a leveller. Anybody can do it – and you have such a fantastic repertoire, you can do all sorts of different things.”

Isobel Camburn said their choice of song, written by Charles A Tindley in 1905, ‘has a lot of meaning to me and a lot of other people in the choir because it’s about getting over hardship.

“Everyone’s been through hard times but it’s about getting through it together as a community and as a sisterhood.”

The choir, which featured soloists Amy Sheldon and Leia Watts, did receive some criticism from Mr Gill, who said their clapping was slightly out of time, though he added: “Soul, that’s what this song is all about and you really did deliver.”

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: The Motet choir at Victoria Hall in Bolton with presenter Josie d’Arby (left)

Mr Watson disagreed with his opinion and said: “From a performance perspective you were  joyous, you were all smiling and engaged.”

And Mrs Grant added: “They absolutely shone, I thought this performance had real heart, real soul. I thought you were all completely, universally engaged, which was lovely to watch.”

Mr Pitts said afterwards: “They communicated with the audience and that’s what I wanted them to do.

“The girls were hugely excited as they had to film an insert at the school for the programme. Our music social media page and Twitter feed have had many fantastic comments from the public and former members.

“I was so proud of them. As Carrie Grant said, it was 100 per cent commitment and this really came across well on TV. They sang with such heart and soul.”

Emily Lindridge reflected: “It’s so much fun and you’re able to put your soul into it, I think everyone could feel that.”

To see Motet’s performance visit BBC iPlayer

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