Collyer’s Christmas cracker

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This week Canon Guy Bridegwater and St Mary’s Parish Church, on the Causeway in Horsham, hosted the Collyer’s annual Christmas Concert.

The packed congregation enjoyed an evening of festive music and dramatic performance, orchestrated by Collyer’s Dominic Leitner (Musical Director) and Keith Burton (Acting Director).

Music on arrival was specially arranged and produced by Bridie Cummings and Joyce Lee. Students, family, friends, governors, teachers and the Horsham community were treated to superb readings and dramatic performance from Hannah Baxter-Eve, Nicholas Henman, Jonny Felton and Chris Petts. The congregation also enjoyed technically brilliant performances from the college Trombone Octet (coached by Paul Satchwell) of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”; “Christmas Piece” from the excellent Flute Ensemble, and a mesmerising performance from the Sinfonia of Mozart’s German Dance K605 (Sleigh Ride).

Joyce Lee and Conor Paterson, with the Jazz Quartet, beautifully performed “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and Jake Dickson and Hugh Crook’s “Good King Wenceslas & Shepherds’ Rag” was superb. The college choir, headed by Daisy Henson, Caroline Hillier and Amy Snowden, accompanied by pianist Nick Machin, exquisitely performed “Once in Royal David’s City”, “In the Bleak Midwinter” and an entrancing “White Christmas”.

Assistant Principal, Melanie Russell, was thrilled: “I genuinely thought last year’s concert couldn’t be bettered, but Dominic and these gifted performers have yet again set the bar even higher! Wow!”

Canon Guy Bridgewater was also extremely impressed: “Once again the talented students at Collyer’s have treated us to a wonderful free concert for all to enjoy”.

Vice Principal, Steve Nicholls added: “This was without doubt the best ever Collyer’s concert in my time, which really is saying something, as my time at the college goes back over a quarter of a century! Stunning performances all-round!”

Later in the concert, Amy Snowden and Conor Paterson joined The Collyer’s Big Band, aided by Mike Lavelle, in thumping performances of “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas”, “Alright, Okay, You Win”, “Londonderry Air” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. The evening closed with everyone joining together for a rousing “O Come All Ye Faithfull”.

Dominic Leitner told the congregation: “We tried something different this year by inviting some of our ex-students to join in, as we feel that they are very much still part of the college’s music department. It has certainly paid off, as I’m sure everyone has enjoyed a fantastic evening!”

Other stars on the night were the technical team, comprising Dan Page, Victoria Skinner and Michael David Fox; organist Nick Machin and the Flute Choir, coached by Monika Lavelle. Collyer’s Linda Macleman, Laura Ryan and a team of student council volunteers also worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the event possible. The Collyer’s student council also took a collection at the concert, to raise funds for the St Catherine’s Hospice.

Laura Ryan, College Council Manager said: “We managed to raise £290 on the night, which is a fantastically generous effort and great news for such a worthwhile local charity”.

Collyer’s Principal, Dr Jackie Johnston was thrilled: “We are hugely grateful to Canon Guy Bridgewater and all at St Mary’s for their incredible hospitality and for making this wonderful festive occasion possible. I would also like to thank all those involved behind the scenes for making tonight so special. I am so proud that the Collyer’s students and staff have produced such a magnificent concert for us all to enjoy. What a fantastic night!”

Report and pictures contributed by Collyer’s.