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Sing Up

Once again, One World Evening was a great success and a fantastic celebration of the multicultural community we have at Highgate Primary. Each year the highlight is the incredible food, lovingly prepared by our families. However, this year there was another highlight – a rare performance by the Highgate Primary Community Choir.

I joined the choir at the start of the school year and, since then, Wednesday evenings have been spent singing with a committed bunch of parents in the school hall. Led by mezzo-soprano, Catherine Hopper, supported by baritone and conductor, Sam Evans, the choir has a rather impressive pedigree. The singers are currently a little way behind in terms of quality, however we’re definitely getting better – and to my untrained ear, on occasions, we almost sounded musical.

My singing career began quite a while ago when I joined a choir with singer songwriter, Tracey Thorn. Admittedly, I was 8 and she was 10, but it’s true. In 1974, I was one of four boys in the Brookmans Park Primary School Choir led by Headteacher, John Sidnell. I remember Mr Sidnell was passionate about music and would write his own compositions. These were of varying quality, but his song ‘The Wizard’ was remarkable. With the opening lines, ‘With pointed hat and nails like claws, and a terrible smile in his face’, and a memorable key change at the end, we loved it. Mr Sidnell taught us the actions as well. If you saw a performance of ‘The Wizard’, it would stick in the mind as a bit sinister and rather terrifying, yet somehow brilliant.

Singing in the Brookmans Park Primary School choir was exciting and great fun, but sadly that’s where my singing career officially ended, with future performances mostly reserved for White Hart Lane or whoever happened to be in the car.

But as you know, choirs have had a bit of a resurgence recently, with the likes of Gareth Malone on the telly and Pitch Perfect on the big screen. All of a sudden it’s socially acceptable, even quite fashionable, to be in a choir. Our school choirs, led by our music teacher Hilla Moshenson, are more popular than ever, and it seems that the school now has a culture where children really want to sing.

The thing is, singing is good for you. It is a great way to feel part of a community, and has health benefits too. Singing with others has been shown to trigger happy hormones that boost your sense of well-being, lower stress levels and lift your mood. And it’s great fun too. ‘California Dreaming’ and ‘Thank You for being a Friend’ may have been sung better, but for me, singing them with the Highgate Primary Community Choir, they’ve never felt better.

So thank you Catherine and Sam for getting us all singing – and if you happened to see our performance on Friday and felt a little bit of envy, why not come and join in?

William