Friday, October 7, 2016

Michaelmas Term 2016 Review

The Music Department has been a hive of activity this term once again with many pupils taking full advantage of the varied musical opportunities at the School. We began the year with a record number of boys taking Music at GCSE in the Third Form and with Mr Jackson’s exciting new music curriculum coming into full force. I hope that the boys have enjoyed their Lower School music lessons this term. We were also very pleased to reflect on some outstanding exam results in the Summer where the Music Department was once again among the very highest achieving aspects of the School at all levels. There’s more going on than just concerts on the top floor!

But there have been plenty of concert opportunities as well with a few events standing out. In October we welcomed the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to the School for a joint concert with our Big Band. What an amazing evening it was. Here is a clip - Henry Wolcott in the Fourth Form is the tenor soloist.

The Big Band also made a return visit to the Bull’s Head in Barnes, as well as performing for the Senior Citizens Christmas Party and also playing at the National Concert Band Festival London Heat, which was held once again at the Vaughan early in December. It was our Concert Band that shone that particular day though, winning a Gold Award  - congratulations to them and to Miss Wilby who directs the Concert Band with great skill and commitment.Here they are, playing in the St Cecilia Concert in November. 

Miss Wilby also arranged the two very lovely Early Evening Recitals we held this term – one for the younger boys and a second one for the older students who are taking GCSE and A Level. There was some very encouraging playing in both concerts. 

This might be an opportune moment to thank the instrumental teachers for their work – what a sterling job they do week after week. We were all very sorry to learn that Adam Wright, who has taught the trumpet at the Vaughan for 15 years, was no longer able to make the teaching fit around his young family and would therefore be leaving at the end of this term. Adam has been a first-class trumpet teacher and a delightful colleague and we will all miss his greatly professional presence very much.

Someone else who left early this term was our Administrator, Mr Brennan. Dominic, an Old Vaughanian, had been with us for three years and in that time done a great deal of lovely work for the Department. Dominic was always a real pleasure to work with and we all wish him the very best for the future as he begins a new career in the world of wine. I was very pleased to appoint Thomas Marshall to cover in the period up until Christmas – he has been a delight – and in January we welcome our new Music Administrator, Tanya Watkins. Tanya has great experience in the role having been the Music Administrator at Kingston Grammar School for the past eight years. We all look forward very much to seeing what she brings to the Department and to working with her in the years ahead.

The St Cecilia Concert in November was very well attended and the large audience of parents and friends were treated to an evening of English music (other than Second Orchestra who performed Brahms and Dvorak!). Highlights included Handel from Senior Strings 9pictured below), lots of lovely Eric Coates and some beautiful Vaughan Williams from the School Choir with two superb solo contributions from Filippo Turkheimer and Luciano Cuscack. 

The St Cecilia Concert also saw a performance from Sixth Form Choir (pictured above), which has gone from strength to strength this year. Numbering at one point over 100 it has now settled to a more manageable fifty or so and they have been busy, singing for an Evensong at Selwyn College, Cambridge and also for the Vigil Mass at Westminster Cathedral late in November. This was the first time that the Sixth Form girls have sung at Westminster Cathedral and it was very lovely to hear them in that most famous of spaces for choral music (see picture below). This is a very exciting time to be in the Sixth Form Choir, under the super direction of Mr Jackson and I hope that those involved will work just as hard next term so that they can build on the momentum achieved this term. 

The Schola Cantorum has been very busy as always, aided by the introduction of some very talented new First Form boys in September. Seventeen boys sang in English National Opera’s spectacular production of Tosca across the term (more photos HERE).

Other highlights include an Evensong at Winchester Cathedral in September (pictures below) and a beautiful service at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square for Remembrance Sunday. The Schola gave a concert for the Army Benevolent Fund at Haileybury School in October and sang the Duruflé Requiem for our own Remembrance Mass in November. The Schola sang twice at Westminster Cathedral during the term and also led the singing at a Mass to celebrate Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s fiftieth anniversary of joining the Priesthood. 

Time at the end of term was spent learning Handel’s Messiah for a concert performance given at St Gabriel’s, Pimlico in December. This was a memorable evening with the solos sung by the boys of the choir (sixteen of them) as well as the choruses. In preparation for this we welcomed internationally renowned conductor Paul McCreesh to the School to take the boys through their paces. 

The short video below shows a few moments of video from the evening whilst the second film is a collection of photos cut together with a longer selection of moments from the performance. 

The term ended with the Annual Carol Service, which included the first performance of a new Carol by Ben Parry commissioned for the evening, who among other things directs the National Youth Choir.  The video below contains photographs taken on the evening along with a short selection from the carols which include music by Handel, Howells, Gardener and Cornelius as well as a snippet from the first performance of Ben Parry's Quem Pastores Laudavere.

Next term has lots to keep us busy – these events include the Big Band Evening in early February, a concert by the Schola at the Temple Church in March, the Annual Music Competition and the Easter Concert which this year is being held at St John’s, Smith Square and is a performance of Vaughan Williams’s remarkable Sea Symphony. I hope you will be able to join us at some of the many events that will fill the weeks between now and Easter. In the meantime, thanks to all who have supported the Music this term and best wishes to everyone for Christmas and the New Year!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home