Gala concert to celebrate Portsmouth High School’s birthday

Portsmouth High School marked its 136th birthday this month with a Gala Concert at the Cathedral of St Thomas, Old Portsmouth.

The concert featured a world premiere of ‘Seasons’, a newly commissioned work written for the school by Toby Hession, set to the words of Christina Rossetti’s poem of the same name and celebrates the beauty of ever-changing nature.

The composer, Toby Hession, 21, comes from Peterborough, and currently reads music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he holds a Choral Scholarship and an Instrumental Award.

An audience of over four hundred, including the Leader of the Council, Donna Jones, The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Ken Ellcome and the Lady Mayoress, filled Portsmouth Cathedral.

‘It’s all well and good having lots of shops but a city is nothing without culture,’ said Councillor Jones.  ‘For us to have a spectacle this evening from the talented young women really is a treat. It was fantastic evening.’

‘Seasons’ was broadcast live on Facebook during the evening and Toby, who couldn’t be at the concert, commented:

‘Absolutely amazing!  Thank you so much for giving such a wonderful rendition.  I am indeed sad not to be there, but knew you’d all smash it.  A lovely way to end my Birthday.’

A combined group of over 200 musicians sang and played through the evening which included works ranging from Mozart Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Soloists included: Felicity Bryant, 16, Jia Feng, 15 and Isobel Clark, 18.

‘Once again hats off to Portsmouth High School’s Musical Director, George Tinsley,’ said Chairman of Governors Mrs Anne McMeehan Roberts. ‘The programme that he put together for Tuesday’s Gala Concert at the Cathedral sparkled with pizzazz from beginning to end.  The soloists captivated the audience with their virtuosity, and all of the performances, in their infinite variety of traditional, classical and modern composition, lifted the spirits and gladdened the heart on a cold winter’s evening. Block out your diary and book your ticket for next year’s Gala Concert the second they become available!’