One of the delights and privileges of working in a school is seeing young talent develop. Through offering a carefully balanced blend of nurture and challenge, we have the opportunity to take a natural talent and turn it into something truly awe-inspiring. Such is the case of one of our pupils, Francesca Banks. In a school perhaps more reputed for its sporting prowess, Francesca’s sublime talent sings out loud and clear – quite literally.
Having started singing lessons at the age of seven, Francesca (now 11) has already reached Grade 6 standard. She sings for the School Choir and the Chamber Choir and has just returned with the rest of the Chamber Choir from the Stowe School Choral Festival. Prior to attending, Francesca was selected from all the participating prep schools to be the soloist in Mendelssohn’s ‘O For The Wings Of A Dove’, with Stowe’s Director of Music describing her voice and performance as “truly exceptional”.
Francesca is establishing quite a reputation outside of school too: last November she auditioned for a place in the National Youth Choir and will attend her first residential course with their Girls’ Junior Choir in August; she has entered the Wensleydale Tournament of Song for the last three years and this year gained the highest mark for the U12s in the music festival; Francesca also sings for Ripon Cathedral Choir, winning Ripon’s ‘Young Musician’ competition last year and being nominated the ‘Most Promising Young Musician of the Festival’.
Director of Music at Cundall Manor, Wendy Ford, is delighted to have the opportunity to work with such a budding musician; “Francesca has an outstanding talent. She has an extremely mature voice for her age and shows huge potential.
As a Music Department, we are committed to helping ensure that that potential is fully realised, both in school and beyond. We’re lucky to have had the opportunity to nurture similar talents in recent years. We already have a number of Cundall Manor pupils in the National Youth Choir, one of whom also went on to win a music scholarship for Oundle School”
Cundall Manor’s Music department is indeed a busy place, with an ever-growing body of permanent and peripatetic teachers working with pupils of all ages, from pre-Prep all the way through the Year 11. The most popular instruments may be guitar, piano and drums, but many children also enjoy and achieve great things, with violin and cello, flute and clarinet, trumpet and trombone. And with no less than 1 in 4 of our pupils taking extra lessons, it won’t be long before the Department relishes in discovering another musical gem like Francesca.