Founders' Day 2022

Posted by Sitara Bartle on 04 Mar 2022

Modified by Sitara Bartle on 23 Jun 2022

Founders' Day 2022

The annual Founders’ Day took place today, with over 1500 pupils, governors, alumni and staff seated in Manchester Cathedral. This event been held since at least 1872, subject to nationwide circumstances such as World War 1 and 2, and most recently, the covid-19 pandemic. It seems plausible that the daily prayers for the Founders stipulated in the School's foundation document became less frequent and this then eventually evolved into an annual event at the cathedral. The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker – also an old boy of the school – and the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell, held two services close to the site of the first incarnation of the school when it was founded in 1515.


Director of Music, Rob Carey, commented: “As a school community it is important that we acknowledge, celebrate and give thanks for the generosity of the original benefactors of The Manchester Grammar School. The school has very strong connections with Manchester Cathedral and the service is designed to reflect our diverse school community in terms of religious faith or none. The music chosen each year needs to reflect the formal and celebratory nature of the event in the cathedral, and is selected to stretch, challenge and educate pupils in our musical community both in performance and rehearsal. Handel was commissioned to compose his Dettingen Te Deum in response to a victory over the French army by the British (under the command of King George II) in 1743 and the first movement is obviously joyful and celebratory in character. It was performed by MGS Choir and an orchestra featuring prominent trumpets and drums.

He added: “More reflective in nature is Maurice Durufle’s motet Tantum ergo which uses the original Gregorian chant melody stated in long note values in the soprano part, whilst the lower three parts weave complex polyphonic lines. This was performed by our most experienced singers in Year 11 and sixth form as well as staff members. The popular communal hymns are chosen to reflect the nature of the occasion and have also been orchestrated for performance. It is a great opportunity for our musicians from across the school to perform in a space like Manchester Cathedral  to help enhance this formal acknowledgement of the generosity of the MGS founders, and to remind the pupils how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to attend such an institution”.

Year 11 pupil Yoonjae played in the orchestra and described his experiences: "For this year’s Founder's Day, the choir and chamber orchestra have performed George Frideric Handel's Dettingen Te Deum, which was written in 1743 to celebrate Britain and Austria's victory over the French Army in the Battle of Dettingen. It is a very glorious piece making fit to the celebratory nature of MGS's Founder's Day. 

I was personally very much looking forward to performing, not only due to my passion for music but also because of simply how long it has been since this event was last held. The pandemic restricted live music as a whole over the last few years, thus, I was very grateful that I could enjoy the feeling of connection again between other musicians and the members of the audience".


In recognition of the multicultural nature of the school and the ethos of respect for all religious beliefs , the service also includes readings from religious scriptures.

Year 12 pupil Saran read an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit. He said: “I am honoured to read the Bhagavad Gita in its original language in an event where all cultures are respected and appreciated. I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to be the first person to read the scripture in Sanskrit at this event”.

Saran commented on the importance of this reading: “Sanskrit is often perceived to be the mother of all languages in India. Sanskrit is vital to Indian culture because of its extensive use in religious literature, primarily in Hinduism, and because most modern Indian languages have been directly derived from, or strongly influenced by, Sanskrit.

Most of the greatest literary works to come out of India were written in Sanskrit, as well as many religious texts including The Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu sacred text originally written in Sanskrit that forms part of a larger epic, the Mahabharata. This scripture contains a conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna on a variety of theological and philosophical issues”.

Year 8 pupil James commented: "Today I sang in the MGS choir in Manchester Cathedral to commemorate our Founders’ and Benefactors’ day. This is one of the most important events in the school calendar as it engages the current  school community, Old Mancunians, and others involved with the school together in a time of gratitude for our founders and benefactors who made it possible for the Manchester Grammar School to be what it is and who gave us the great gift of education. It also symbolises our unity: whoever we are, whatever our beliefs, we are together – reflective in the different readings we had today from different religions".

James added: "What I enjoy the most about being in the choir is the excitement you get from singing together and feeling the same things as other people, this sense of unity. This year was particularly special as the school community, after not having a Founders’ Day for so long, celebrating all of the work which everyone had undertaken during the hardships of the pandemic. It was also my first Founders’ Day, and I loved the experience, and I can only thank the people behind it  for the amazing effort which they put into organising the event, for everyone to enjoy."


There was also an address by Patrick Thom, former Head of Modern Languages and Sixth Form at MGS who discussed the recent fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris alongside the recent covid-19 pandemic. He talked about the ways in which resilience and perseverance were important qualities during both disasters, and will be equally as important as the school moves on into the future.

It was a pleasure to welcome Patrick Thom back after the disruptions caused by the pandemic, as well as Governors, Benefactors, Old Mancunians and guests to the service at the cathedral. Thank you to everyone who attended the service and we hope to resume this annual event next year, as is tradition.


Well done to all the pupils and staff who performed in the school event!



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