Senior and Prep School children, together with Gresham’s quartet-in-residence, the Albion Quartet, delighted the first audience to attend a concert at the Britten Building, the school’s new music school and sixth form centre.
Benefactors, acousticians, surveyors, engineers and architects came together to celebrate their creation where they enjoyed a full programme of music featuring the school’s choir ‘Schola Cantorum’, musicians from the Prep and Senior School and the Albion Quartet in the new Fishmongers Recital Hall. The Fishmongers Recital Hall features a splendid Steinway piano, hand selected from the home of Steinway & Sons in Hamburg.
Named after Old Greshamian, composer Benjamin Britten, The Britten Building, is a culmination of a £6.5 million, five year project to improve the musical provision at Gresham’s and is the most significant addition to the school in twenty years.
The Britten Building has replaced the school’s existing music teaching areas and has provided modern and comfortable practice and performance spaces including the 140-seat Fishmongers Recital Hall. Pupils will also benefit from the provision of an industry standard recording studio, seminar and teaching rooms and social spaces including a café. The café is dominated by a stern piece, kindly donated by the Fishmongers’ Company and features their coat of arms. Built in 1773, the stern fronted a barge on the River Thames until 1856.
Fittingly, Schola Cantorum performed ‘A Hymn to the Virgin’ which Benjamin Britten composed while he recuperated from illness in the sick bay at Gresham’s in July 1930, aged just 16. It is still one of his most frequently performed choral works.
In a thrilling finale, Gresham’s Chapel Choir, accompanied by renowned violinist, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, performed ‘A Prophecy of Dawn’, an anthem specially written for the event by choral composer, Bob Chilcott.