SCHOOLCHILDREN joined forces with an award-winning London Orchestra to perform a classical concert at a Dorchester church.

Children from the Thomas Hardye School music department took to the stage at St Mary’s Church alongside the Imperial College Symphony Orchestra (ICSO).

After 15 years of collaboration between the orchestra and Thomas Hardye School, the concert has become an annual event which has grown year on year.

This year, more than 160 performers graced the stage including children from St Osmund’s and St Mary’s middle schools along with adults from local choirs.

Peter Oakes, director of the Thomas Hardye Singers, said: “As an alumnus of Imperial College Symphony Orchestra myself, I persuaded Richard Dickins, the conductor of ICSO, to bring the orchestra to Dorchester in the late 1990s.

“Since then, not only have ICSO visited Dorchester annually, but students from the school have visited London most years, to join ICSO for their London-based concert, often at Cadogan Hall.”

Director of DASP Music Hanna Trevorrow added: “There are very few state schools in the country who will be able to provide such a wonderful opportunity for their students.

“We are very lucky that Peter Oakes and Richard Dickins have forged this collaboration and we hope that it continues for many more years.”

“With the Arts often being squeezed out of many schools at the moment, we can be very proud that, in Dorchester, our schools and communities are working together to keep the arts very much alive.”

The concert featured a performance of Mozart’s Requiem Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine, Bizet’s Farandole and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

ICSO director Richard Dickins said: “The enthusiastic involvement of all those who take part, and the interaction with the community of Dorchester, seems to bear a very special fruit.”The affection that has grown between the people of Dorchester and the students of Imperial is clearly very strong and makes for a particularly happy and successful event both musically and socially.”

The Thomas Hardye School Choir will be performing a Carol Service at St Peter’s Church, Dorchester, on Thursday, December 15 at 7.30pm