The sound of leather on willow, the sun shining in the sky and the beauty of Charterhouse in another term is upon us. Even though there is the perhaps heavy shadow of exams over a large number of our pupils, there are nonetheless numerous highlights that continue to punctuate the term. A very large number of them have been coming from the Music department; it’s so important to our pupils that they keep a healthy balance amidst their studies, and we’re so grateful for their efforts in all that they’ve achieved this term thus far.
Evening Recitals and our ongoing Ralph Vaughan Williams Series have been a real highlight of the year. Evening Recital I was a celebration of musicians across the School: Claire opened the concert brilliantly with her virtuosic piano playing, offering a mini-programme of Chopin, Scriabin and Liebermann. Following were the Senior winners of Woodwind Prizes, Kirstie and Horace, both performances on recorder and bassoon respectively oozed musicianship and professionalism. The concert closed with Claire at the piano once more, but joined by Adrian and Jonathan in a performance of the first movement from Beethoven’s Ghost Trio, an extraordinary piece of composition played quite brilliantly.
Just a week later and we welcomed the highly acclaimed Sitkovetsky Trio to Charterhouse to give the Ralph Vaughan Williams Celebratory Concert IV, also the second in the Investec International Music Festival. It was a real pleasure to host this concert at which the Surrey Hills Young Composer Competition prize presentation was also given. As expected, the playing by the musicians was a real delight and a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to witness a concert of such brilliance. The fifth concert in the RVW Series saw our Charterhouse musicians take to the stage, with performances from the Brass Quintet, Justin playing the Charterhouse Suite in its piano version, the beautiful consort singing of pupils and staff in some Vaughan Williams's part songs and finally a super rendition of Finzi’s Five Bagatelles for Clarinet by returning Old Carthusian, Antonio Zhang (H, 16-21). The concert can be viewed here.
Music kept coming the following week where we welcomed pupils from Hoe Bridge, Edgeborough and St George’s, Windsor Prep Schools to take part in our Choral Day, wonderfully led by Head of Department, Mr Mark Shepherd. Collaborating on this scale has, understandably but unfortunately, been on hold the last few years: to get everyone back together in the awe-inspiring setting of the Memorial Chapel was truly fantastic. The pupils sang their hearts out and with real joy through Faure’s beautiful Requiem, with a lovely solo in the ‘Pie Jesu’ by our Year 9 pupil, Laura. This was a super occasion and one of real splendour and happiness. Further collaboration, this time with the good folk of Godalming followed; under the direction of Head of Woodwind, Mr Sam Corkin, the Jazz Band took to the Godalming Bandstand on a glorious Saturday afternoon and delighted the massed crowds with their toe-tapping numbers. So good, they’ve been booked again next year!
And the events kept rolling in. Just last week, almost all of our woodwind Ensembles took to the stage in Evening Recital II, a lovely occasion celebrating all the work that our wonderful team of Visiting Music Staff do on a regular basis. With performances from no short of six woodwind ensembles, this concert had everything from Bach to ABBA, via a host of composers in the middle, including Vaughan Williams whom we continue to celebrate in so many ways in this special 150th anniversary year. Vaughan Williams featured again, as one might expect (!), at our annual Singing Prizes event last weekend. We were thrilled to welcome Mr Robert Rice to adjudicate proceedings who witnessed, alongside the very supportive and high in number captive audience, an array of over thirty songs; performances included English song, German lieder, Italian aria, French chanson and a number of entries from the world of Musical Theatre. This was a splendid afternoon and all performers gave a really excellent account of themselves. Overall winners in the three categories were Oliver, TianZong and Aomi; in my book, though, everyone was a winner!
We’ve not even at half term and there’s still so much to look forward to. With Artifex just around the corner, we still have time for our Composers and our Organists to take to the stage with their competitions coming up this week and week after half term respectively. We must also mention the Eve of Carthusian Day Concert, a real orchestral extravaganza coming up on Friday. This term’s Orchestral Concert will feature not one, two or three, but four concerto soloists! Music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn will be performed by Taki, Horace, Michael and Sophie; this is an occasion not to be missed and will be the perfect way to say a huge thank-you to these four pupils who have given countless hours, musicality and joy to the music making at Charterhouse School.
Keep looking out for upcoming concerts, including non-stop music during the afternoon of Carthusian Day. Lots to look forward to, we hope to see you there!
Mr Jamal Sutton, Assistant Director of Music and Organist