Scotland’s oldest school celebrates origins with concert at Royal Concert Hall

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On Monday 17th June, The High School of Glasgow hosted a Gala Concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of its 900-year anniversary celebrations. 

In a fitting tribute to the school’s 1124 Glasgow Cathedral Choir School roots, over 300 pupils from Junior 4 through to Senior 6 took to the stage to perform a carefully curated show which was months in the making.  

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The audience were treated to performances from each of the established choirs in the school: the Junior 4 to Junior 6 Choir, the Transitus to Senior 2 Choir, the Senior 3 to Senior 6 (and staff) Choir and the Chamber Choir, alongside performances from the award-winning Pipe Band, Percussion Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Band and String Ensemble.

The highlight of the evening was a rousing Finale recital of ‘Highland Cathedral’, arranged and kindly lent to the School by Martin Thomson, featuring every single musician and singer from across the evening. 

Rector John O’Neill, said: “To perform on stage at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is a truly momentous occasion, one that I’m sure our pupils will remember for years to come. It is particularly fitting that the location of this concert, in the heart of Glasgow, is just minutes away from where our school first started as the Sang School of Glasgow Cathedral in the 12th century. 

“The Gala Concert was the culmination of many months of hard work and many evening and weekend rehearsals. I spend a lot of time talking to people outside of The High School of Glasgow, and the City of Glasgow, about the quality and the ethos of music making in our school and the 900th Anniversary Gala Concert was the perfect way to showcase this.

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“Since the origin of our school, we’ve helped children to find their voices and 900 years later, this statement holds true. For our Sixth Year performers, this was their final school concert after years of performing in High School choirs, bands and ensembles, and it was quite the stage on which to end their school musical careers. Of course, for many, this is just the beginning of a lifetime of musical talent, either as a career or a cherished past-time.”  

 The 900 celebrations commenced with a dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum attended by 450 guests on Saturday 20 January. The programme of anniversary events have so far included a Civic Reception at Glasgow City Chambers, a sporting showcase at Old Anniesland, pupils planting 3600 trees at the Cathkin Braes in Glasgow’s southside, an event for current and former staff at the Senior School and a summer fair for current and former families.

Still to come is a 900km sponsored cycle across the UK in September in aid of the Bursary Fund, the school’s first Giving Day and a major art exhibition. There will be a special 900 Commemorative and Thanksgiving Service in September at Glasgow Cathedral, the site of the school’s founding. 

To mark its 900th anniversary, the school has launched a fundraising appeal, the 900 Campaign, to increase its Bursary Fund, to develop an educational initiative called START promoting new skills for youngsters, and to ensure the school is a sustainable place of learning. 

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In 2023, 60 Senior School pupils received full or partial bursaries, allowing them to attend the High School irrespective of their families’ financial circumstances. Bursaries are awarded through the school’s separate charitable Educational Trust*. The fundraising appeal is aimed at raising money to increase bursaries in future years ensuring inclusivity and diversity, enhancing the learning experience for more youngsters. 

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