It may be the summer festival season for the world’s top recording artists, but last week music fans in Surrey were flocking to the Leatherhead Theatre for the final of the Surrey Schools Have Talent contest – where pupils from Whyteleafe School were taking part.
After teacher Emma McCheyne submitted a video of the choir performing, the Whyteleafe pupils were one of just a handful of applicants from across the county to be selected for the live performance round of a competition which saw the singers go up against a variety of acts from other Surrey schools, including dance troupes, cheerleaders and solo performers.
Under the guidance of Mrs McCheyne, the 65-strong choir performed ‘Drop in the Ocean’ by Tolga Kashif with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe – and as well as the daunting prospect of singing in front of a large live audience, the choir also had to deal with the hazards of technical problems delaying their performance.
“A problem back stage meant that they were kept waiting on stage for what seemed an eternity, waiting for the backing track to start, which was a real test of their nerves and composure,” said Mrs McCheyne. “They handled the situation fantastically, though – they weren’t put off at all, and sang their hearts out, getting a great reaction from the audience, particularly after they’d had to go through such a very public distracting experience beforehand."
Although every child who performed received a certificate of participation, sadly when the prizes were handed out, they finished just outside the top three in the 11-strong competition, but Mrs McCheyne said everyone involved could come away with their heads held high after a brave display.
“The choir were very happy with their performance and hopeful that they would finish in the prize positions, so obviously they were slightly disappointed that it didn’t turn out that way, but they should be very proud of how they handled themselves,” she said. “Live performance can be a challenging experience at the best of times, let alone when you have to deal with problems like this, so they did themselves and the whole of Whyteleafe very proud. It was a thoroughly worthwhile experience and I know they’d love to do something similar again.”
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