A Round-Up of Music

Charterhouse will always be commended for offering the pupils so much to get involved in within all areas of school life, and the pupils must be commended for throwing themselves into all sorts of activities – even if that means juggling commitments around exams and revision.

Despite the sun shining across the glorious picturesque cricket pitches of Charterhouse School, there is always the constant background grumble of examinations – be they the rather important public exams, or the equally stressful internal exams. Nonetheless, pupils have continued to be very busy over in the Music department, sensibly giving their brains a break in pursuit of musical excellence.

Composition and Organ prizes round off the musical school year. This year, we were thrilled to welcome Mr Paul Whitmarsh and Mr Simon Bell, respectively, to adjudicate. Our Year 11 composers all offered up their IGCSE coursework compositions for scrutiny, as did our A Level musicians; each pupil was able to showcase a piece of great thought and care, performances given by members of staff and the pupils themselves. Mr Whitmarsh was most impressed by the display and array of textures attempted, commenting on solid methods and techniques of compositional practice. Full house of prizes went to Verites, with Pradeep taking the Junior and Taki the Senior. A variety of factors meant that Organ Prizes this year was more of a Masterclass, but an equally enjoyable and fascinating evening. Joshua played Brian Solomon’s Aria, Max offered Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Edward masterfully managed the tricky Fugue in G minor, BWV 543 by JS Bach. Mr Bell was most impressed with the level of playing going on and commented on the huge amounts of potential going forward for all of these pupils.

Without doubt, the highlight of the last couple of weeks was the truly outstanding Eve of Carthusian Day Concert, given by Symphony and Chamber Orchestra and its four soloists, all under the baton of Dr Millard and Mr Bolivar. There was no better way to celebrate the talent that these four pupils have given to Charterhouse Music during their time here. Taki opened the concert with JS Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1022. Masterful, technically brilliant and always in tune with the surrounding sounds of Chamber Orchestra, this was a wonderful performance, full of live and vigour.

Next to the stage was Horace who gave us Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K.191. As expected, but so pleasant to be reminded, Horace achieved a beautiful sound from his instrument, getting round the phrases with such thought and poise. Mozart is not easy to play (!), but Horace made this work sound completely effortless. Bravo, too, to Chamber Orchestra for preparing these works so efficiently. In a stage rearrange, Symphony Orchestra appeared for the second half of this concert, opening with the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.3 in C minor, op.37, soloist Michael. Wow, simply wow! Michael is a musician of such maturity, professionalism and consideration, and all of these aspects shone through his playing. His interpretation of this music was second to none and the way he worked with the orchestra, too, showed a level of musicianship well above his years.

The evening was brought to a splendid close with Sophie offering the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. With its instantly recognisable melody and melodic writing, Sophie ensured that this performance was filled with flair, musicality and bravado. Sophie’s playing has been most excellent the last few years, including a number of collaboration projects through lockdown. To see her crown all her achievements with this most superb of performances was a real highlight, and a splendid way to finish the evening. Bravo tutti, truly, without forgetting to mention Dr Millard, Mr Bolivar and all the staff who helped to make this concert a highlight of the academic year.

The end of term is near, but just enough time to fit in a few more concerts! This week sees Evening Recital III, including a repeat performance to the Year 9s to mark the end of their exams. We then hit Artifex where there are at least two, sometimes more, concerts a day – listen out around the campus at break time and just before dinner, there’ll be music somewhere!