Ending the month of January with a bang, two students from DCGS travelled to Southampton for the final of a rather unusual music competition. Fidel is an upcoming musical celebrating the life of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, with songs written by students from schools and colleges across the UK. The organisers hope it could become the next Evita. Over 500 schools signed up to this fledgling competition, leading to large number of submissions, making it an impressive feat for two of Challoner’s students to reach the top five.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/qb4RQV-wLXw

Fidel the Musical
Fidel the Musical

Zach Yarrow, composer, and Joshua Robey, lyricist, (both Year 11) wrote their entry ‘I Heard’ based around the tentative and, to this day, uncertain relationship between the Cuban leader and his fellow revolutionary, Celia Sanchez. The lyrics tell of a will-they-won’t-they romance, with many of the wild aspersions that ran through Cuba at the time, following a Bossa Nova style of music.

Hosted at the Turners Sims concert hall, the gala event was organised with the University of Southampton. ‘I Heard’ was pitted against four other songs which had also made the shortlist. Throughout the highly entertaining evening the team faced off against some strong competition, with high quality performances for each song.

‘I Heard’ was performed by the authors with Harriet Mepham and Orla Fawcett (from DCHS), and it received a great reception from the audience. The judging panel, comprised of experts from the field of musical theatre, were equally positive about music and lyrics alike, particularly praising the rich – and often jazzy – harmonies and the use of the word ‘shenanigans.’

After an interval, the time came for the judges and the audience to vote for their favourite, using keypads. Whilst the points were tallied, there was a superb performance of some Cuban guitar playing from Ahmed Dickinson (also on the judging panel).

Eventually, it came to announcing the songs’ rankings and ‘I Heard’ was placed third overall. It will almost certainly be included in the musical as well - a fantastic result for the songwriters. Thanks go to the event organisers and Mr Tansley for spotting the competition, and we look forward to full musical in the future. More details about the event and the musical can be found on the official website: