MORE than 550 young musicians and singers raised the roof of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff when they performed at a gala concert to launch the 400th anniversary celebrations of one of Britain’s oldest schools.

Sunday’s sell-out concert marks the first event of a year-long celebration by Monmouth School, founded in 1614, and its four fellow schools in the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools group.

Pupils, families, staff and guests marked the milestone for the school and the William Jones’s Schools Foundation, named after its founding benefactor, a Wye Valley-born merchant.

Highlights included world class conductor and former Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls pupil Professor Jane Glover CBE taking the baton for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave while Old Monmothian and BBC rugby commentator Eddie Butler stirred the hearts with a rendition of Shakespeare’s Henry V set to William Walton’s music.

There were also performances from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Symphonic Winds and preparatory schools, Inglefield House and The Grange.

Mrs Helen Davy, headmistress of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, said: “Celebrating such an historic landmark in the school’s life with a gala concert is something none of the performers will ever forget.”

Dr Steven Connors, Monmouth School headmaster, added: “This was a magnificent opportunity for the musicians and singers to display their talents in the capital of Wales in a world-class venue and an auditorium which inspired them all, showing how well young people respond when you set them high standards and give them extraordinary opportunities.

“It was a wonderful way to celebrate 400 years.”

They just have the chance to catch their breath before 1,500 pupils, staff, families and governors attend a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, on March 19.