When considering a forthcoming festive season at Leweston School, the rose-tinted memories of Christmas Jumper day, the Christmas Fair, and making oneself sick on mince pies at the Christmas lunch is normally inevitably accompanied by thoughts of carol singing in Sherborne, the Christmas Concert at the Parish church, and the Carol Service in the Abbey. This year, however, although the jumpers will be worn and the mince pies consumed, none of the usual musical events are currently permissible due to the Covid-19 restrictions. So, how do we continue to keep the long-held tradition of Christmas music-making at Leweston alive at a time when we are all in need of festive joy and a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, but when audiences and congregations are not allowed to gather together in person, and singing in public venues for all but professionals is banned?
The answer is, of course, with a great deal of difficulty! And also, a great deal of invention, a great deal of swearing at the video-editing software, and a great deal of PPE and social-distancing. In addition, it has required a great deal of perseverance – for example, when a whole week of recording has to be cancelled due to all but four members of the Choir needing to self-isolate. However, in the face of all adversity, we will have a virtual Christmas Concert featuring recordings of all the ensembles that have been able to continue this term. We will also have a virtual Carol Service featuring recordings of Schola Cantorum, Cantemus, staff and pupil readers, and special-guest appearances from Mgr. Canon Robert Draper VG and Revd Lesley McCreadie.
We have striven this term to keep music alive at Leweston – for it to continue to showcase the talented, to encourage the beginners, to support the well-being of pupils and staff, and to bring together the community in a positive and inspiring way. Christmas will not be as any of us want it to be this year, but at Leweston we will celebrate the festive season by collectively watching the video of the Christmas Concert as a whole School and, perhaps most importantly, by joining as a community with staff, pupils and their families on the last day of term to celebrate the birth of Christ through our virtual Carol Service.
Yes, Christmas at Leweston will be very different, particularly in the Music department, but, actually, does it matter? As long as the community of the School and the true meaning of Christmas is at the heart of what we do, we can forgo the rest. Apart from, maybe, the mince pies…
Dr Rachel Milestone, Director of Music