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VIDEO: School on song with 100-strong virtual choir

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A NEW MILTON school has been singing out with a virtual choir containing more than 100 pupils, parents, teachers and alumni.

Ballard School sent out an invitation to those with connections to the independent educator to learn part of Fly to Paradise by Eric Whitacre, and record video or audio of their performance.

Former pupils taking part include Jay Harris and James Miller of band The Manatees, and baritone Huw Montague Rendall, a 2018 graduate of the International Opera Studio Zurich.

They were joined by voices “from across the breadth of the Ballard family”, from young pupils to grandparents and extended family, prospective pupils to governors and staff – including headmaster Andrew McCleave.

The recordings were pieced together to create one performance, conceived and produced by music teachers Victoria Gray and Barnaby Prangnell.

Along with footage of the singers, it also includes pupils dancing and clips of some of the activities children and families have been busy with during lockdown.

The project was inspired by Whitacre’s virtual choir projects, which have included a composite piece created with some 8,000 singers from around the world performing Fly to Paradise.

Victoria Gray, head of performing arts at Ballard School, said: “Music and performing are such a big part of school life at Ballard School, so it was really important for us to try to continue that now.

“We might all be confined to our own homes for now, but we have still been able to share in an experience of making music together which has been truly uplifting and rewarding – not to mention lots of fun. I commend all the pupils, parents, staff and friends of the school who took part.

“It was also particularly pleasing to see some of our alumni add their voices too, demonstrating the enduring strength of the Ballard family and how important that wider community is to the school.”

Headmaster Andrew McCleave added: “I continue to be hugely impressed by the creativity and commitment of our fantastic team here at Ballard; they have risen to the considerable challenge presented by the closure of the school and the move to remote learning.

“We want to embrace all the possibilities technology offers, to innovate, try new things, to learn and adapt, so that we can maintain the excellence of our pupils’ learning experience, as well as the vitality of our school community. This project was one of the many successful ways we’re doing just that.”

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