Benenden schoolgirls are aiming high in the Christmas charts as their first festive CD goes on sale.
The Benenden Chapel Choir, comprising 36 pupils from Benenden School, have today seen their album, Make We Merry, hit the shelves.
The recording features the choir performing original Christmas carols by three of the most highly-regarded contemporary choral composers, David Bednall, Bob Chilcott and Sarah Quartel. The recording also features some of the foremost young instrumentalists on the UK scene - London Metropolitan Brass, who trained at the Royal Academy of Music, cellist Rebecca McNaught and percussionist Kizzy Brooks.
Poppy Worlidge, 17, a member of the choir who performs on the recording, said: “The opportunity to capture the magic of our choir in a medium that will outlast our Benenden careers is very special and such an honour.”
Clemmie Simpkin, 15, another member of the choir, said: “Not many teenagers get an opportunity to have a copy of their own performance on CD for general release. We have been waiting for a long time for the final edit and we’re incredibly excited! Who knows - perhaps it might even be a Christmas Number One album!”
If Make We Merry reaching the top spot is unlikely – it faces stiff competition from the likes of Rod Stewart, Children in Need, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey and the Frozen 2 soundtrack – the choir certainly has a background of success.
Its first commercial CD, of David Bednall’s Stabat Mater in 2016, earned critical acclaim, including an Editor’s Choice award from Gramophone, coverage on BBC Radio 3 and a five-star review from Choir and Organ magazine.
Edward Whiting, Director of Music at Benenden, said: “The response to the first CD was excellent and if we can get anywhere near that reaction again then we will be delighted.
“This is very much the second album we wanted to make. In many ways it’s more accessible than Stabat Mater: it’s more upbeat, involves more instruments and we think it’s great fun. We hope the listening public agree!”
The album was recorded over four days in March in two locations - Tonbridge School’s Chapel and St Dunstan’s Church in Cranbrook – to suit the styles of the different pieces.
Headmistress Samantha Price said: “We are incredibly proud of the girls; they have put an enormous amount of work into this CD and they have inspired the younger girls to follow their example in years to come.
“It will be the perfect soundtrack to my family Christmas, and I hope to many other families’ festive celebrations.”
- The recording, released through Regent Records, is available to buy on CD from classical music retailers and is widely available online (see list here).