Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo

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Philip Scriven leads audience participation at St. John’s Smith Square

This year we reprised the wonderful cantata Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo, which we performed alongside a number of songs of the sea.

Captain Noah gives the children some rousing choruses to sing, starting with ‘Rain and Rain and Rain’, and ending with a celebration of the end of the flood and God’s promise symbolised by the rainbow in the sky. Members of The Bach Choir had the opportunity to sing several small solo parts as Noah, his wife and sons, and God.

The words by Michael Flanders (of Flanders and Swann) are brilliantly set to music by the composer Joseph Horovitz, who honoured us with his presence in the audience.

Children from seven primary schools took part, more than 150 all together, and each school had the opportunity to sing a song of their own. These included two traditional songs, Belemama and I’ve been to Harlem.

Choir and children together sang What shall we do with the drunken sailor? and Somewhere over the Rainbow, and The Bach Choir sang a special arrangement of the Skye Boat Song, commissioned from John Tavener.

The concert was conducted by Philip Scriven and accompanied by a jazz trio consisting of Mark Austin (piano), Dan Swana (bass), Matthew Green (percussion).

The schools involved were:

  • Our Lady of Dolours RC Primary
  • Burdett-Coutts & Townshend CE Primary
  • King Solomon Academy Primary
  • ARK Brunel Academy
  • St. Mary’s RC Primary
  • St. Thomas’ CE Primary
  • St. Cuthbert’s with St. Matthias Primary


We had some wonderful reactions to the concert:

“Many congratulations for last night. It was a great event to be in, and as usual our children benefitted considerably. We had quite a few parents there who were delighted, a new Headteacher who beamed all through it, and I had two relatively inexperienced colleagues who were (as ever) staggered by the standard of the performance their children were part of.”
A teacher

“A wonderful experience for the children and parents as well!”
A teacher

“Fantastic opportunity for the children to express themselves through their voices”
Audience member

“The commitment and enthusiasm of the children was memorable, as was the sight of their parents in the audience”
Member of The Bach Choir