The Academy Chorale is a large choir for boys and girls (over 80 pupils) in years 8-11 which meets every Monday after school – everyone is very welcome.
We learn to sing in three parts and perform at Carol Services and Spring Concerts. We sing everything from Musicals to Classical to Pop.
The Academy Chorale is one of my favourite after-school activities on offer. It gives everyone in years 8-11 a chance to sing with others, make new friends and develop their musical skills. It meets every Monday at 15:30 – 16:15, a time I look forward to each week. This year, the Chorale sang at both the Christmas Carol Service and the Spring Concert.
This year’s Carol Service was a little different as St Patrick’s (our usual venue) was undergoing renovation. We were very grateful to 1st Ballymena Presbyterian who offered the use of their church for our service. Instead of singing live,we were videoed on a different date and shown on screen; this was because of Covid restrictions which prescribed the number of singers that could be admitted to the location at any one time. It was an interesting experience! We sang the beautiful songs ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’ and ‘Away in a Manger’. Both arrangements were lovely and we all really enjoyed singing them. The video presentations were fantastic, created and edited by a professional media company, and the choir looked and sounded amazing – it was just like ‘Songs of Praise’.
The Ballymena Academy Spring Concert is always a fabulous event and this year was no different. Although the Chorale was a little smaller than on previous years, we packed a real punch, with the songs ‘Someone You Loved’ and ‘Lost Boy’. ‘Lost Boy’ was made all the better by our two amazing soloists Eva-Lilly Beckett
(Year 8) and Imogen Brown (Year 9).
I think I speak on behalf of the whole Chorale when I say that choir just wouldn’t be the same without our wonderful teachers, Mrs Church and Mr Thompson. It is thanks to them that the Chorale is such a success and that we all enjoy it so much. As this was my last year in the Academy Chorale, I am sad to leave it behind. I have gained so many great memories and if you are in years 8-11 I encourage you to give it a go. You won’t regret it!
By Evie Arnold, Year 11
Senior Choir is a really large choir of over 160 pupils for boys in years 11-14 and girls in years 12-14. We sing in four parts and perform some amazing Christmas pieces at Annual Carol Services at St Patrick’s Church every year.
We also sing a really wide range of music from Gospel to Pentatonix, Bach & Handel to Coldplay and Queen arranged by some of the worlds best choral writers.
Senior choir on a Friday afternoon has always played a key part in the life of pupils and music staff alike, and is the perfect end to the academic week. Meeting after school from 3.30 to 4.15pm, over eighty students looked forward to singing under the expert direction of Mrs Church and Miss Wilkinson, and, of course, our excellent accompanist Mr Christie. With two important annual events each year – our Carol Services and Spring Concerts, there is always something to be looking forward to, as well as a chance to display the musical talents of our senior pupils in front of family and friends.
This year, Ballymena Academy incorporated old traditions and new ideas alike in our Christmas Carol Service, held in the lovely First Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. With the absence of ‘in-person’ concerts in 2020, pupils and staff were overjoyed to once again be attending with loved ones. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Senior Choir were sadly unable to perform live, however due to help from Arkmedia, we were able to record our pieces in the church. These videos were played during the service, and were streamed on the Ballymena Academy Facebook site, so that everyone could share in the Christmas Spirit and support the music department. Senior Choir performed three beautiful pieces this year, ‘Love’s Pure Light’, a stirring rendition of Silent Night arranged by Michael John Trotta, ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ arranged by Heather Sorenson and ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, a true reflection of the immense talent of our choir, with male and female voices blending together in harmony to bring a little bit of Christmas joy to everyone in the school community.
After the Christmas break, Senior Choir were straight back to work preparing for the annual Spring Concert, which we were honoured to perform once again in The Braid Arts Centre, having been unable to do so in both 2020 and 2021. Senior Choir rose to the occasion, performing incredible gospel arrangements such as ‘Total Praise’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ alongside Coldplay’s ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’. The presence of our amazing band, featuring students alongside Mr Pedlow, added to the phenomenal atmosphere that came with – at long last – performing in front of a live audience. Emotions ran high for our year 14 pupils, as Callum McKibbin, Katherine Duff and Lucy Magee presented our wonderful music staff with flowers (along with some hugs!) at the end of a fantastic two nights of live music.
The last three years in Senior Choir have been highly enjoyable, and I am sad to leave this part of my life behind as I near the end of Year 14. I’m incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to the music staff for all the memories I have created during my time in Ballymena Academy, and I know I will look back on my time in Senior Choir with a great fondness.
Ana Stinson, Year 14
Our large Male Voice Choir has boys from year 8 up to year 14 singing in four part harmony! They practice during lunchtimes and perform at the massive St Patrick’s Carol Services and the Spring Concerts. This year at the concert they performed Ed Sheeran’s hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
After the disruption of Covid, it was great for Male Chorus to be back together rehearsing at lunchtime with the ever-patient leader, Mr Barkley Thompson. We have a wide range of boys from Year 8 right up to Year 14, allowing us to develop friendships through teamwork and having fun. Due to their extensive renovation work, St Patrick’s Church was unavailable in December for our Carol Service. Curtailed by ongoing Covid restrictions, our Male Chorus put together a lively rendition of ‘We Three Kings’ where the senior members had the privilege of performing live at First Ballymena Presbyterian Church.
As restrictions eased further at the beginning of 2022, we were delighted to begin our preparations for the Spring Concert, motivated even more by the anticipation of a return to the stage for the entire choir to perform live. Under the spotlights, our harmonious performance of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ provoked a toe-tapping, hand-clapping sing-along with the audience, aided and abetted by the fabulous Mr T.
It will be sad to say goodbye to the Male Chorus after seven years of being involved with this merry band of brothers, but I have made great memories and friendships during this time. I wish Mr Thompson and the boys every success in the future!
Jonathan Campbell Year 14
Chamber Choir is an audition entry choir made up of talented singers from years 12-14. This choir works even harder and commits to quite a lot of practice in order to be able to sing collegiate and semi-professional/professional choral works.
Favourite composers and arrangers include Lauridsen, Whitacre, Lawson, Arnesen and the Pentatonix to name a few.
The choir sings many newly written works, from the best writers in America and Europe. The choir sings at the Carol Services and Spring Concerts and represents the school at various events throughout the year including winning numerous festival awards.
The Chamber Choir has enjoyed a successful year of music, performances, and lots of fun. It was a particularly exciting year as we enjoyed our first ‘in-person’ Carol Service and Spring Concert after missing two years due to the pandemic. It was great to be back rehearsing on a Monday afternoon, guided by Miss Wilkinson and Mrs Church. We started the year off with preparations for the Carol Services, which are loved by so many, performing the songs “What Child is This”, “Cradle Hymn”, “Infant Holy” and “Carol of the Bells”.
At the beginning of April, the Chamber Choir led a Choral Video project involving other local schools, as part of special events in the process of Gracehill’s World Heritage Status nomination. As Gracehill is an incredibly historic village so close to our school, the choir took great pride in participating in this exciting and prestigious occasion, singing both
“Lovely Gracehill”, and “This is My Song”, which was then sung at the Annual Spring Concert.
The Spring concert, for many pupils, parents and teachers is a highlight of the school and musical calendar. A concert full of talent, fun and fabulous music is the best way to bring all the choirs, orchestras, ensembles and pieces into the final musical showcase event of the school year. The Chamber Choir sang “The Road Home”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “This is My Song” and “Fields of Gold”, not forgetting the famous “Everlasting Love” from the hit movie Belfast, which was performed in collaboration with the Stage Band. It was certainly a most enjoyable concert, displaying the amazing talent Ballymena Academy has to offer right through the school – and of course the Music Department which puts in countless quantities of time and effort to provide two wonderful nights of musical entertainment.
The Chamber Choir wish to thank Miss Wilkinson and Mrs Church for all their help and support through this successful year.
Jessica Livingstone Year 13, and Finn Henderson Year 14