Sheffield High orchestra wow music festival judges with Haka performance

Sheffield High School orchestra gave an outstanding performance, which ‘mesmerised’ judges at the recent Music for Youth National Festival at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Dressed in England Rugby shirts, the all-girl 28 piece orchestra, comprising strings, clarinets, flutes, a trumpet and a harp showcased the SHS Scrum down with rugby inspired favourites – Swing Low Sweet Chariot and When the Saints go Marching in.

The group who are all aged between seven and eleven (Y2-Y6) also performed the Haka, the traditional dance of the New Zealand rugby team, led by ten year old Gabrielle H., which saw instruments held high, followed by enthusiastic stamping, shouting and thigh slapping.

The adjudicators, composer Sarah Watts and the woodwind specialist and creator of the Charanga educational programme Joanna Mangona commented

“It’s as if we are watching different concerts within one piece. To perform without a conductor is so clever. You tell us this story confidently with innate musicality. You keep together, keep the pulse beautifully. The contrast of the haka formation is fabulous.”

The piece was inspired by the Rugby World Cup, which took place across the UK last year. It was while watching the matches that Music Co-ordinator, Clare Wallace began to plan the idea for the unusual performance.

Speaking about the SHS Scrum down, Clare said:

“I’m a huge rugby fan and after watching the Rugby World Cup last year, I thought there was the potential to combine my two passions – music and rugby.

“I started to think about how it could work over the summer and when the girls came back in September, I told them about the idea and they loved it.”

“They have all been enormously committed to this project, which has taken nearly six months and hours of practise to learn but seeing them perform the SHS Scrum down at the Music for Youth Festival at the Birmingham Symphony Hall made it all worthwhile – they were amazing!”

Twelve groups from across the UK performed alongside Sheffield High School in Birmingham, all hoping to land a place at the School Proms, which take place at the Royal Albert Hall in November. Sheffield High School will find out if they have been awarded a place at the School Proms in September.