I think I should have gone to boarding school in my High School years. My Ma did, and hated every moment. I think my Dad also went to boarding school and hated it. My Sister reckons she wouldn't be suited to boarding school, but I reckon I would have LOVED it.
Over the last fifteen or so years I have attended heaps of live-in courses and camps and never wanted to leave any of them when the time came to leave. I love the routine, the staff and other students being around, having my own little room or dorm space, and communal activities in the free time. There's always the Harry Potter fantasy aspect too.
Anyway, I had an absolutely fabulous time. We were at St Matthew's Collegiate in Masterton, which has nice single dorms with a few double/triple rooms. I had a wee single with a lovely view of the Chapel out my window.
We had larger numbers than last year, and so there were four Houses, rather than the three we had last year. They were:
Gibbons - trebles (boys' unbroken voices). 9 - 11 year old boys.
Purcell - young sopranos, 9 - 11 year old girls.
Stanford - older sopranos (11-13 year olds) and some broken voice boy altos
Byrd - four part broken voice choir, including mature soprano and alto girls, and two boy altos. It turned out that there was only one tenor, so I helped out at rehearsals, along with Christina. We were literally The Three Tenors!
We had Chapel services twice a day - spoken prayers and meditation after breakfast, and sung services after dinner. Each night service was lead by a different house. The first night, the staff sang a full evensong with versicles & responses, a psalm, Magnificat & Nunc Dimittus, an anthem, and two hymns. We sounded pretty good, considering we had just met that afternoon and had never sung together. I guess my sightreading was better than I thought.
The tutors were all great - we had Stephen Rowley and Alison Stewart from last year's School, and two new tutors from Christchurch; Robert Cross and Paul Ellis. Christina from last year, a couple of parents and myself were all there as mere "house staff" - read "camp mums", but in the evenings, the music staff and house staff all came together to talk crap over a quiet drink in the staff lounge.
The organ scholar this year was a chorister from last year's School - Paul Tarling. Only eighteen, but very talented (and cute too!) I think it might have been a little wierd for him this year being staff, having been just "one of the kids" last year. Still, he loosened up a little as the week continued. I even got a foot rub out of him on the last couple of nights.
The final service was in the acoustic vortex that is St Matthew's Church in Masterton. The digital organ sounded less crap than last year though - maybe they loaded some anti-crap software in it. We sounded awesome and I made only two mistakes in the whole pile of music we sang. My favourite bass (Thomas, 16, from Tawa) scored the only Yellow Ribbon award, and also a sightreading scholarship to come back next year.
After the final service, we all ran around getting photos, hugs and email addresses from each other and headed homeward for a well-earned rest.
The guy standing 2 over from me is Thomas, the one I reckon looks like my friend James from netball. The photo doesn't really do him justice. The dark haired guy right up the back is Harry - the only MALE tenor in the School.
Winter Choir school is in early July '08. I'm looking forward to it already.