Alexander L’Estrange’s Wassail! – Another Winner!

Many congratulations to Alexander L’Estrange on winning the public vote for the Best Classical Music Education Initiative Award at this year’s Music Teacher Awards, sponsored by Classic FM, for Wassail! Carols of Comfort and Joy.

Wassail! was commissioned by United Learning and premiered in two concerts in December, bringing together over 1000 staff and students from across the UK. The piece was created to inspire collaboration, musical excellence and joy through choral singing. Performers from United Learning academies and independent schools across the country took part in the premieres in London and Manchester, side by side with acclaimed vocal ensemble Apollo 5 in a unique national initiative that also included teacher training, schools’ workshops, recording sessions and design.

Alexander L’Estrange said: “I’m incredibly proud of Wassail! From writing the work, recording and rehearsing it across the country with hundreds of amazing students and their brilliant teachers, to conducting the premieres – the whole process has been a complete joy.”

Alexander tells you more:

It’s nearly 10 years since Alexander’s Zimbe! arrived on the scene, and thousands have enjoyed performing this wonderful collection of tradition African songs. Worldwide there have been over 200 performances and it’s popularity with children and adults alike shows no sign of waning. One bonus is that Alexander and his Call Me Al Jazz Quintet likes nothing better than to accompany the singers at many of the venues.

Alexander was a chorister at New College, Oxford and says: ‘It’s hard to overstate how much I owe musically to my time as a chorister in the choir at New College, Oxford: not just the variety of repertoire we got to know, perform and love – Messiaen one night, Tallis the next, Bach in German the next –  but also the discipline, professionalism, language work, life-skills, adult role models, and sheer quality of music-making we were lucky enough to experience. After leaving the choir aged 12 or 13, I was lucky enough to encounter some jazz, music theatre, folk and world music as well – top-notes of flavour and seasoning, if you will, added to the core ingredients of the English choral tradition. That recipe, after a 10-year “marinade” in my 20s working as a freelance performer and teacher, created the composing and arranging style that I now make my living from. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given’.