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Manchester High School for Girls


On 28th March, Manchester High’s musicians took to the stage at the Royal Northern College of Music for the annual Spring Concert.

In a nod to 2018 being the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, when women in this country first won the right to vote, the evening was a celebration of pioneering female musicians and composers.


The concert began in rousing style with the Senior Choir singing Ethyl Smyth’s 1913 piece, On the Road: A Marching Tune. Smyth was prominent in English musical life in the early twentieth century and a close friend to Emmeline Pankhurst. On the Road features elements from March of the Women, the rallying cry of the Women’s Social and Political Union, which was sung by suffragettes across the land.


Audience members were also privileged to hear the world premiere of Mother Goose as a Suffragette, a composition by Sixth Form student, Mia Serracino-Inglott. Performed by both the Senior and Preparatory Department Choirs, alongside the Chorale, Mia’s piece combined a number of short poems from a 1912 pamphlet of the New York State Suffrage Party which laid out the case for women’s suffrage in a format that everyone could understand; nursery rhymes!


The night, however, wasn’t purely grounded in the distant past. The School’s Wind Band brought things up to date with a rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem, I Will Survive, and our talented vocal group presented The Evolution of Girl Power, a whistle-stop tour of the women that have changed music throughout history. From Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th century church music through to Dua Lipa and Beyonce, we even passed Dolly Parton on the way!


For many, the evening’s orchestral performances were a real highlight, with our classical musicians accompanying a number of Sixth Form soloists. Katrina Wong took centre stage in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Ann Thompson played two movements from Finzi’s Five Bagatelles on the clarinet and Annabel Carthy performed Neruda’s Concerto in E-flat Major for Trumpet and Strings. The orchestra also accompanied soprano soloist, Ceferina Penny, for Bellini’s dramatic aria, Oh! Quante volte, where Juliet vents her horror at being dressed for a wedding to someone she does not love and longs to be reunited with Romeo.


Not to be out done by our Senior pupils, the Preparatory Department choir, under the baton of Mrs Heggie, sang Sister Suffragette from Mary Poppins - dressed in full costume. The words include the lines: "Our daughters' daughters will adore us and they'll sing in grateful chorus, well done, Sister Suffragette!"


Reflecting the tremendous musical community that is Manchester High School for Girls, during the second half of the concert, parents, staff, alumnae and friends of the school joined pupils for in a rendition of Ethel Smyth’s Mass In D. Of the combined performance, Mr Bradley, Director of Music, commented:

“The Royal Northern College of Music is a superb venue for any musician to perform in, the acoustics and atmosphere really are second to none and we were delighted to give members of the wider Manchester High community the opportunity to perform here as well.  It was the culmination of lots of hard work and a definite highlight of our musical year.”