“It’s finally cool to be in a choir”: St Ambrose claims hat-trick at Bowdon Music Festival

By David Prior at

It’s finally cool to be in a choir,” says St Ambrose College’s director of music Aled Phillips, who has overseen a hat-trick of top prizes at the Bowdon Music Festival.

His 40-strong junior choir won the senior choir category even though they are all aged just 12 years and under.

Brilliant 12-year-old pianist Barnaby Simpson then won the grade 8 piano solo, while the Hale Barns school also won the junior ensemble, with their tight but powerful five-piece who practise together every day.

Aled said: “The popularity of choir programmes on the TV has shown the younger generation it is finally cool to be in a choir and I have no problem finding volunteers. We are also able to mix traditional choral music with some popular tunes of the day, which the boys love to sing.”

Pianist Barnaby Simpson, pictured holding the big cup, with the 40-strong St Ambrose choir

He added: “The judges seemed so pleased to hear an all boys choir which they had thought was a thing of the past and gave us so much praise for our projection, clarity and harmony.”

Pianist Barnaby Simpson, pictured holding the big cup, practises for at least an hour every day using time before school, at lunchtime and after school to hone his skills and is already at Grade 8.

He said: “I really want to become a concert pianist and know I will have to work even harder. I love Mozart in particular and can’t imagine ever tiring of playing his music.”

The five piece ensemble of Mele Gadzama on Trombone, Harvey Richardson on trumpet, Joseph Oates on saxophone (all pictured) with James Allen on violin and Jamie Dwan on flute, also won playing both classical and popular tunes.