Oxted School Students Sing for the Royal Family
Year 9 Oxted School students Poppy O’Brien and Connie Price sang at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday 13 March 2017. The service, attended by the Queen and several other senior members of the Royal Family, celebrated the role of the Commonwealth in nurturing global peace.
The girls were part of the Commonwealth Festival Choir, formed especially for the occasion from the Apollo Youth Choir, to which both Poppy and Connie belong, and children from The Purcell School of Music and Harris Academy Peckham.
Poppy, from 9DP, co-wrote one of the songs on the programme, ‘One Song’, reflecting the unity of the Commonwealth, while Connie, 9TS, sang the solo that opened the Maori love song ‘Pokarekare ana’. The service was broadcast live on BBC One and BBC World Service.
The Commonwealth Day Service is Britain's largest annual inter-faith gathering and this year took the theme of peace-building. There were performances by Australian musician, Cody Simpson and George the Poet and reflections by Achaleke Christian Leke, a former victim of radicalisation and violence. The Service concluded with a procession of Commonwealth Flags – accompanied by the Commonwealth Festival Choir singing a Commonwealth Chorale composed for the event by the choir’s director Graham Dinnage. A number of celebrities attended including singer Annie Lennox, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and Olympic heptatholon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, as well as Prime Minister Teresa May and former Prime Minister John Major.
The girls and their fellow choristers have ‘voices of angels’ according to Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who praised their performance. They have been invited back to sing again in Westminster Abbey in December.
Connie, 14, said: “It was a hugely memorable day and I feel enormously proud to have taken part in a celebration of the Commonwealth and to sing at Westminster Abbey. We are all so thankful to the Apollo Youth Choir for such an amazing opportunity.”
Poppy, also 14, was interviewed for the BBC World Service programme about the event and the song she co-wrote for the occasion. She said: “We were trying to convey the message that everyone’s equal within the Commonwealth and that’s what we wanted to get through in our song.”
Apollo Youth Choir rehearses at the United Reform Church in Bluehouse Lane, Oxted on Mondays between 5.30pm and 7pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, visit http://www.apolloyouthchoir.org/ – or ask Connie or Poppy in school!