Maria Fidelis is Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year

Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir

Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir

Maria Fidelis Convent School Gospel Choir, in Euston, London,  is the Senior BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year 2010. On its first competitive outing,  Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir beat previous St Aiden’s CE High School, Harrogate, a previous winner and   Rugby School, a third time finalist, to win this prestigious competition.
The competition, which took place on 13 March at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank was screened on BBC1 yesterday.  Choirs each sang a traditional hymn and a piece of inspirational music before a panel of judges including Howard Goodall, David Grant and Claire Sweeney.

Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir, led by Ms Karen Gibson and accompanied by Mr Emmanuel Waldron swept the judges away with its superb rendition of the traditional hymn, As the Deer Pants for the Water with a moving solo by year 11 soprano Gloria Amponsah.  The inspirational piece, Oh Mary O Martha, a spiritual, with a complex and technical arrangement by Ms Gibson, featured ad libs from altos, Mahalia Fontaine, year 11 and Courtney Lewin-Greaves of year 9. 

The judges, in awarding the prize to Maria Fidelis praised the choir for its beautiful and soulful singing as well as its technical virtuosity.

The journey to the title began in September when the choir manager and Assistant Headteacher, Ms Newell, decided to enter the competition. The school was selected from all the national entries to go through to the semi final stage which involved filming the choir and further judging to select the three finalists.

Maria Fidelis Gospel Choir, formed especially for the Songs of Praise competition, included students from year 7 – year 13 who were selected from the Upper and Lower School Gospel Choirs which are run as part of the school extracurricular programme.

In addition to working towards the Songs of Praise final, in January, the choir accepted an invitation from the US Embassy to sing at the US Ambassador’s residence for the commemorations which took place for Martin Luther King Day.

The Maria Fidelis supporters included the trustees, the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ), the Headteacher Mrs Williams, parents, friends, staff, representatives from the governing body, the local authority and the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales.

As the winning school the BBC will return later in the year to make a film about the choir to showcase its continued success.  Besides the title and trophy, the choir also won £1000.00 for the school music department and will sing the Songs of Praise Gala Concert Concert with a special guest performer.

“Already we have been inundated with emails and calls from around the country and abroad congratulating us on our win. All these messages have a common theme:  how the girls singing has touched people so much that they have had had to let us know and how their beautiful singing has reminded people of the potential for young people to achieve when they are given the encouragement and space to grow.” said Lyn Newell, Assistant Headteacher. 

“We are so proud of the girls.  They have worked hard and have been rewarded for all their hard work and commitment. 

During the competition they were so honouring and supportive of all of the competitors.   They are a credit to themselves and their families as well of the school. 

Last year’s senior winners sang for Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he visited the UK.  Who knows who we will be invited to sing for! 

We are really looking forward to the opportunities that winning Songs of Praise Senior School Choir of the Year 2010 will bring.  Maybe we will even sing for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI when he visits in September.”

Songs of Praise is currently available on BBC iPlayer.

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