Friday, 8th February 2019
I wrote last week about the mouth-watering prospect of the Orpheus Concert in the Town Hall last Saturday night. In the event, the evening was even more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Alexander Winnfrith sang with complete poise, launching himself upon the haunting Pie Jesu with complete commitment, his whole body bending into the piece. The effect upon the packed hall was electric. It was a wonderful sight to see him standing at the front alongside the great Sir Thomas Allen who sung the baritone solos in the same piece. It was a splendid evening of music-making and a great occasion for the School. Dr Stephen Darlington MBE, Christ Church’s former Organist, gave a speech at the beginning of the event about our Chorister Outreach programme and explained the good work which was occurring through the scheme. Owing to the popularity of the event, I suspect that we will receive a considerable amount of sponsorship from Oxford Orpheus to help run the programme. I am convinced of the importance of singing in primary schools and I am delighted that our choristers are helping to ensure that so many local children are participating enthusiastically in the programme.
Next Friday, the last before half term, we have a wonderful day planned. We start with our termly Eucharist, a very moving service to which all of you are most warmly welcome. As ever there will be coffee afterwards, though the service will take a bit longer than normal, finishing at about 9.30 am. At the moment, because of the lighting works in the Cathedral, our services have moved up into the chancel and the Eucharist therefore will occur up at the High Altar. The sanctuary at Christ Church is one of my favourite ecclesiastical spaces. It was brilliantly remodelled in the Victorian era by the prolific architect, Gilbert Scott, and has a real sense of a quiet mediaeval monasticism, the light streaming through the windows having a particularly captivating hue. Do try to come along if you can.
The day continues with the Interhouse Quiz, a furiously contested competition where pupils’ general knowledge is tested by Mr Richards’ searching questions. And then, in the afternoon, at 1.45 pm, one of my favourite events of the year, the Poetry Recitation Competition, this year adjudicated by Emily Fox, Master in Charge of the Theatre at Charterhouse School, in Surrey. I remember in my first term at Christ Church being blown away by the quality of the recitations and thinking how lucky I was to have arrived at such a place. It has been one of my greatest pleasures that I have never got used to the standard. I urge you to come even if your son does not make it into the finals; the delight of hearing proper poetry being recited from heart by our pupils is unforgettable.
By the time you read this, you should have received an invitation to a private tour of Tom Quad and Tom Tower from me for Tuesday 12th March. I hope very much that you will come. Our recent tours of Worcester and of the Christ Church Picture Gallery have been very popular. On this occasion we will have drinks in the McKenna Room, which lies off the spectacular staircase. We will then, very unusually, have access inside Tom Tower itself and also into the Law Library where our School was housed throughout most of its life. One can see graffiti made by former pupils. Finally we will gain insight into Tom Quad itself, Oxford’s most famous Quadrangle. Absolutely not an occasion to be missed!