The academic study of Music is an important part of the Charterhouse Music Department, encouraging pupils to broaden their depth and understanding of music through the study of theory and analysis, music history and composition. Additionally, cross-curricular links are explored via the close connections between Music and other subjects, such as Mathematics, Physics, Literary Studies, and Philosophy.
Music is a compulsory subject for Year 9 pupils, and is an option available for study at IGCSE and in the Sixth Form. On average, about half of those studying the subject in the Sixth Form go on to further musical studies at a university or conservatoire, with roughly 50% of those gaining places at Oxbridge colleges. A number of recent leavers have graduated with First Class degrees in Music from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Kings College London, and a former pupil is currently undertaking doctoral research in music at the University of Oxford.
The Year 9 course provides all pupils with an understanding of music’s fundamental building blocks through the study of a diverse range of music, fostering a love and understanding of music. The IGCSE course covers the history and analysis of music from the 17th to 20th centuries, as well as a range of musical cultures from around the world. IGCSE students also study composition. The Sixth Form offers the option of further study of the subject at Pre-U or IB Diploma Programme, both of which provide an excellent preparation for university study.
The department has recently invested in a new music technology suite, which forms an important part of the Year 9-11 curriculum, and music technology is also offered as elective study in the Sixth Form. The department also runs an advanced music analysis group, and invites a number of speakers to give lectures or seminars to our students: most recently, Prof David Nicholls gave a seminar on musical nationalism.
You can read all the opportunities for pupils to get involved in Music as part of our co-curricular programme.
The Music department teaches a wide variety of instruments with the support of a peripatetic team of teachers. The full-time staff are listed below with a short biography.
Mr Mark Shepherd MA, FRCO, ARCM – Director of Music
Mr Shepherd started his musical life as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, going on to Oxford as Organ Scholar of Exeter College, Oxford. He spent the first half of his career as a church musician, holding posts at Tewkesbury Abbey and Lichfield Cathedral. While conducting Schola Cantorum of Oxford, Mr Shepherd started teaching at the Royal Academy of Music and The London Oratory School and eventually admitted that teaching was his first love. He was appointed Director of Music at Wycombe Abbey School and then at Charterhouse. During his time both the quantity and quality of music has increased with the introduction of regular performance opportunities at every level. The School’s reputation for music has steadily grown and numerous pupils have gone on to study music at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, King’s London and at the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and elsewhere. More importantly the department has garnered a reputation not only for musical excellence and inclusivity, creating a truly harmonious environment where the primary goal has been for pupils to enjoy and be stimulated by their music-making.
Dr Russell Millard, MA, MPhil, PhD – Head of Academic Music
Dr Millard studied Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he was a Senior Scholar, and holder of the Bliss Award for composition. He was later awarded his PhD from Royal Holloway University of London for his thesis, ‘Musical Structure, Narrative, and Gender in Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé’. His principal musical interests are in music analysis, especially Schenkerian and semiotic approaches, but he can sometimes be persuaded to play the viola. Dr Millard has been Head of Academic Music since September 2005, and also runs IB Theory of Knowledge and coaches cricket.
Mr Jamal Sutton, MA BMus, ARCO - Assistant Director of Music
Mr Sutton is Assistant Director of Music and Organist at Charterhouse. As well as helping to run the busy Music department, he teaches academic music as well as organ and composition. Previously, Mr Sutton was (Acting) Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College for seven years, where, as well as playing for the weekly services, concerts and broadcasts, he assisted in the training and conducting of the Quiristers and Chapel Choir. Mr Sutton was also Director of Cantores Episcopi, the College’s highly successful close harmony group. As well as an extensive discography, he has also performed with the group alongside the King’s Singers and Aurum Vocale.
Mr Sutton is organist and harpsichordist for the St Endellion Easter Festival in Cornwall. Previous highlights have included performances of Duruflé’s Requiem, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and both of Bach’s St Matthew and St John Passion.
Mr Sutton attended Magdalen College School, Oxford, before taking up the organ scholarship at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. As well as a musician, Jamal enjoys cricket, tennis, real tennis, squash (most bat and ball games, frankly!), countryside walks or long drives, Italy and Liverpool FC.
Mr Ben Cahill-Nicholls, MA, AMusTCL, FRSA
Mr Cahill-Nicholls teaches Music and IB Theory of Knowledge at Charterhouse, and is a tutor in Girdlestoneites. He is also the Director of Community & Partnerships, which includes leadership of our charity, community engagement, service learning, citizenship education, local school partnerships, and international partnerships. After a music scholarship at Winchester and a choral exhibition at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he read Music, Mr Cahill-Nicholls began his career in the civil service, and was subsequently an adviser to the House of Commons Education Committee. He held senior posts in further and higher education, including at a 20,000-student college in East London, before coming to Charterhouse. Mr Cahill-Nicholls has particular passions for voluntary work and musical theatre, which come together in RicNic, the youth theatre charity he founded and chairs. He is a governor at Godalming Junior School, and an ordinand (trainee priest) in the Church of England.
Mr Rafael Bolivar, BMus, PGDipRAM, LRAM - Head of Strings
Mr Bolivar was born in Madrid in 1979 and started to play violin at the age of 5 years old. He entered the Royal Conservatory of Madrid at the age of 8 and graduated in 1999 with the prestigious Sarasate Prize, which is only given to those who achieve 100% mark in their final recital. The same year, Mr Bolivar won a full scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music of London with Maurice Hasson. While at the Academy he was leader of many orchestras and won the annual Academy competition for Piano Trios. Mr Bolivar finished his Academy studies in 2001 with a PGDipRAM and a LRAM with one of the highest marks of his year. During the same year, he joined the National Orchestra of Spain as the youngest leader in the history of the orchestra. He worked closely with artist such as Sir Colin Davis, Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, Zubin Mehta, Anton Garcia-Abril, etc. Mr Bolivar also performed solo concertos as part of his role as leader and toured Spain, France and Germany.
In 2003, Mr Bolivar moved back to London where he is now a well-established teacher and free-lance player. He regularly performs with orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic and London Philharmonic.