Staff, pupils, old boys and parents all played their part in celebrating the Christmas season at Queen Elizabeth’s School in 2017.
A packed programme of festive activity embraced the traditional, while also incorporating a few modern touches and elements reflecting the very diverse School community.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This has been a long, busy and productive term, capped by a very enjoyable and well-executed festive programme. I send my best wishes to all members of the School community and hope they will enjoy a happy Christmas holiday and a peaceful New Year.”
One innovation in the programme this year was the introduction of a drinks-and-canapés reception for Old Elizabethans and other special guests immediately prior to the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in the parish church. This was held in the nearby Tudor Hall – the historic home of the School until it moved to its present site in 1932. The venue was filled to capacity, with 60 guests spanning all generations of OEs, including several who were in London from abroad (including the US and Canada). The prominent feature of the building’s ‘whipping post’ proved a talking point.
At the service across the road, the classic combination of traditional carols and biblical readings was accompanied by highly accomplished performances from the School Choir and the Chamber Choir – with the Anthem, And the Glory of the Lord, from Handel’s Messiah a particular highlight. The Mayor of the Borough of Barnet, Cllr Brian Salinger, was present at both the reception and the service. The Bible lessons were read by boys from Years 7–11, with the final readings given by senior staff and by the outgoing School Captain, Oliver Robinson. The Headmaster then read the famous beginning of John’s gospel before the congregation sang Charles Wesley’s Hark! The herald angels sing to Mendelssohn’s soaring melody to finish the service.
The other major musical highlight of the run-up to the end of term was the Christmas Concert in the Shearly Hall, where the School’s choirs led the audience in favourite carols and QE’s leading instrumental ensembles performed music from Bach to Irving Berlin. The Symphonic Winds (a new name for the former Concert Band) produced one of the highlights of the evening, their Selections from Home Alone refreshing memories of what has become a Christmas film classic, while the Senior Indian Ensemble also evoked joy with their rendition of Vilayaadum Pillaikal (The Joyful Children) by Madhurai Mani Iyer.
Between the concert and the carol service, the School site itself became a festive scene, thanks to an early snowfall. Hard work by the staff ensured that no School days were lost.
As the term rolled to a close, boys and staff gathered in the dining hall to enjoy Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. On the final day, classes were dismissed at lunchtime and boys left to begin their winter break.