In 2009 the Choir worked with local singers from schools and community choirs to celebrate Bermuda’s 400th Anniversary. Stephen started the rehearsals in autumn 2008, a few months in advance of the festival during which Christ Church Cathedral Choir traveled there to work with the local Bermudan singers in an intensive week of workshops and performances.
The Choir’s October 2007 trip to Jamaica is one of the most exciting ventures to date. The Choir joined forces with the Chapel Choir of Kingston College for concerts in Kingston and Mandeville, as well as singing in Spanish Town Cathedral and at the Manley School of Performing Arts in Kingston. The extensive media exposure on television as well as in the press reflected the uniqueness of the project, a long-held dream of Kingston College Chapel Choir’s director, Wayne Moore. The audiences responded with a standing ovation, particularly when the two choirs combined for a thrilling performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. This was a magical and unforgettable experience and there are plans to return.
The Casa da Música in Oporto is a major concert centre in Portugal and the venue for a wonderful fivemonth community project Stephen Darlington directed, which took place in 2006 as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of Mozart’s birth. Stephen auditioned a choir of local youngsters, many of whom had not had the chance to learn music before, providing the singers with an opportunity for regular
chorus rehearsals and individual singing lessons over the five month period. For the final week, together with Christ Church Cathedral Choir, the Portuguese youngsters performed several concerts in the famous concert hall. This was a tremendous experience for both the Oxford and Oporto singers, resulting in highly successful performances of Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Stephen is at the forefront of UK-wide initiatives, including Sing up (the national singing programme which aims to to get all children in England singing) in order to share the teaching and singing expertise of world-class choirs such as this with state primary schools. One of the best ways of sharing is for the boys themselves to convey their enthusiasm and sing with other children. Led by Headmaster Martin Bruce, Christ Church Cathedral School and Oxfordshire County Music Service jointly run a successful programme with local primary schools, culminating in termly concerts in the Cathedral, a practice Stephen and Martin are keen to promote elsewhere.
Stephen Darlington and Christ Church Cathedral Choir collaborated enthusiastically with the Oxfordshire County Music Service Percussion Ensemble in a series of performances of Britten’s Children’s Crusade. The performers subsequently recorded the work on a much acclaimed CD and were involved in the award winning BBC TV documentary Britten’s Children in 2004. Young performers from the Oxfordshire County Music Service joined forces with the choristers of Christ Church and additional singers from Christ Church Cathedral School in a series of rehearsals in advance of the performances, in the spirit of Britten’s initial concept of the work.