September 25th, 2008
Bradley Smith, ex-Head of Choir and now Choral Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, returned to School with nine other gentlemen friends. The Gentlemen of St John’s are formed from the choral scholars of that college and enjoy an international reputation as one of the freshest and most exciting male voiced consorts. On the evidence of their concert in the library of St Albans School, that reputation is justly deserved. The first half was dominated by ecclesiastical music and other pieces from the classical repertoire, the particular highlight being a measured and uplifting rendition of the second part of Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah. The second half began with a sumptuous version of Gershwin’s Summertime, featuring the versatility of tenor Sam Furness. This signalled the concert’s change of mood, with a blend of folksongs and more contemporary popular music, including famous pieces by The Beatles and The Kinks. Sung with gusto, humour and a tangible sense of enjoyment, these provoked the audience to demand two encores before the Gentlemen were eventually allowed to rest their voices and snapping fingers.
September 16th, 2008
Famed broadcaster Sir John Tusa gave unexpected advice at the Prizegiving Ceremony – make time for boredom and do things which are useless. He was making the point, that in hectic lives, it is important to leave time for thought and reflection. He also argued that great ideas and discoveries are made when pursuing activities whose end purpose is not definite. His examples ranged from an appreciation of Picasso to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Before Sir John gave out the prizes, including no fewer than 41 GCSE Governors’ Awards to pupils with at least 6 A*s and no grade lower than an A, Headmaster Andrew Grant made a spirited defence of the charitable status of independent schools. He pointed out the wide benefits which society gains from such schools, listing in particular St Albans School’s contributions to the wider community through charitable giving, bursaries, the Partnership scheme with local primary schools and the use of Woollams by local teams to name but a few.
September 9th, 2008
Pass by a Second Form classroom at lunchtime and a ferocious rhythmic clattering and banging will reach your ears. Nothing here is being mistreated, however, for this is where the speed stacking aficionados do their practice. Chief amongst them is Jeshurun Moothathamby, known as JJ. JJ’s dextrous cup skills have been augmented by his attendance at two tournaments during the summer holidays. Although none of the times or records are official, he managed to break three Middlesex records and established himself as one of the top “Stackers” in the country for his age. He also had the honour of working with Jake Emberton (UK Champion), which he believes has helped him compose himself in competitions and improve even further. JJ’s personal best time for a full stack is 7.62 seconds, though the fastest he has achieved in competition is 8.88 seconds. During his interview with the Publications Department, he achieved a speed of 8.68 seconds, so he is ready for further competition.
If you don’t know what Speed Stacking is all about, see this demonstration.
September 8th, 2008
Although there were gloomy skies, the recent rain took a day off to allow the whole School photograph to be taken in the Upper Yard during the morning. It took careful co-ordination to get nearly 900 people onto the photographers’ staging, but pupils waited patiently and followed instructions to ensure that all went smoothly. There was plenty of good humour while collars were straightened and jackets buttoned, and the staff appeared in their academic finery, including some spectacularly coloured gowns and hoods. Lessons resumed period 5, but the photo crew, who had started work at 8 in the morning, were there well into the afternoon, clearing the staging. The photograph will be available to purchase later in the term.