Round-Up of Music

Round-Up of Music

The final few weeks of spring term (Long Quarter) over in Music School were dominated by the fantastic show, Legally Blonde The Musical, featuring two entirely separate casts, each as wonderful as each other, and numerous other pupils involved backstage and on lighting and tech support too.

Amongst the small crew of participants subject to all eight shows, including two dress rehearsals – what a marathon! – were the musicians; we were hugely impressed, not to mention so grateful and appreciative, of the efforts of Christy (Year 11), Ryan (Year 12), Eamon (Year 11) and Edward (Year 13), all who joined the band for the full run. Year 13 pupil Bella shares an insightful review.

Nonetheless, and always keeping ourselves nice and busy, String and Woodwind Prizes were in the week before the run. Led by our superb heads of department, Mrs Katie Harris and Mr Sam Corkin, these two events were, as ever, hugely successful and a real showcase of the talent across the School. First of all, Woodwind prizes, and we were absolutely thrilled to invite world-renowned saxophonist Mr Christian Forshaw to Charterhouse to adjudicate on proceedings. Competing for the Ashley Prize were our junior and intermediate players, all of whom gave an excellent account of themselves; maturity and musicality was on show across the board with a delightful of array of performances. Charlie (Year 9) and Vlad (Year 13) were highly commended for the horn and cor anglais playing, respectively, with Jason (Year 9) taking the overall prize for his excellent rendition of Hubeu’s Sarabande for trumpet and piano. In the Advance category, competing for the Wales Prize, the standard was incredibly high indeed. Alex (Year 11) and Misha (Year 10) were highly commended for their recorder and bassoon playing respectively, with Eamon (Year 11) taking the overall senior prize for his playing of the first movement from Horowitz’s very tricky Sonatina. Needless to say, there were excellent performances all-round and huge thanks go to Mr Williamson and Mr Sutton for the accompanying, and of course to Mr Corkin for his administration of the event.

Over in Hall, just a few days later, was String Prizes, this time adjudicated by Jessica O’Leary, currently Head of Strings at Eltham College but, again, former fantastic freelance violinist. String playing continues to reach incredibly heights at Charterhouse, so much so that we were delighted to announce an extra competition this year – the Concerto Prize, the winner of which receives the wonderful opportunity of performing their Concerto with a pro orchestra at the orchestral concert at the end of Artifex. However, it is fair to say that there was still very little to choose between almost all the playing on show over the three categories. The Intermediate Prize saw performances from pupils in the lower school with, again, a great array of repertoire. Erica (Year 11) was highly commended but playing Zabel’s Marguerite au Rouet for harp was Dylan (Year 10) who took the overall prize. A beautiful performance, poised and musical, delightful and atmospheric. With a large number of concerto prize entries, just four entries made it to the Advanced prize, taken as it was by Caton's (Year 13) playing of the first movement of Antonín Dvořák’s cello concerto. In his final year, Caton played superbly well and was the rightful winner of this prize.

Six entries featured in the Concerto Prize, with pupils from Year 9 right up to Year 13. Hugely encouraging, of course, to have so many entries from such a wide range, not to mention difficult repertoire on show, all expertly played. Movements from concertos by Saint Saens, Viotti, Bruch, Elgar and Mendelssohn all featured. However, to add to his annual string prizes shelf of trophies (!), it was Timothy (Year 13) who came out on top, performing the first movement of Bruch’s violin concerto. A brilliant performance, full of consideration, maturity and understanding, all of which came across with beautiful tone and quality of performance. Bravo Timothy, we look forward to hearing you with the orchestra next term! Thanks go to Mr Hill for his wonderful accompanying of some rather tricky accompaniments, assisted by Mr Sutton but all masterminded by Mrs Harris.

Passiontide Services for the end of term were celebrated by both the Under School and the Specialists (Sixth Form pupils), the Combined Chapel Choir and then Schola Cantorum singing, respectively, at these services. Choral singing continues to go from strength to strength and there was certainly some very impressive music-making in these services. Perhaps a highlight was Year 10 pupils Robyn and Evalina’s rendition of the Stabat Mater for soprano duet, by Pergolesi, in the Under School service. Beautifully sung and most atmospheric indeed. Sandwiched amongst all of this was a trip to ENO for the academic musicians to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute, most enjoyed by all and a refreshing evening off the campus. The main highlight of the final week of term was, of course, the Orchestral Concert. In this wonderful occasion, Music School was able to boast its four main ‘classical’ ensembles into one occasion – Sinfonia, Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra. It was splendid to see so many pupils involved in the concert, across the whole School, truly encouraging signs for the years ahead. A real array of music was on offer again, everything from the Baroque music of Albinoni to the theme music of James Bond, and also a first outing for the newest ensemble Sinfonia (Junior Orchestra), who gave a lovely rendition of an extract from the Largo of Dvořák’s 9th Symphony. Two highlights, however, stand out: all term, chamber music has been continuing on and we were thrilled that our senior piano trio reached the Quarter Finals of Pro Corda, the prestigious national schools chamber music competition. The trio of Christy (Year 11), Jonathan (Year 12) and Claire (Year 11) played the first movement of Mendelssohn’s first piano trio and what an absolute treat it was. Three of our very top musicians coming together to give a performance worthy of almost any concert hall!

The other momentous occasion was Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Conducted by Head of Music Mr McKee, this was an excellent performance of what is famously a tricky piece of repertoire. With so many performers on stage, it was thrilling to hear the twists and turns that this piece takes, performed by the rousing sound of the full orchestra, culminating with that most famous of tunes signifying the work. A real team effort and a memorable occasion – bravo tutti!

This has been a term full of so many performances and whilst everyone is certainly ready for the end of term, we can reflect on what has been a hugely productive and exciting term of music-making. At the time of writing, the final event of the term is tomorrow night, the ever-popular ‘Charterhouse Rocks’ concert, featuring all of our school bands. This is further recognition of the variety of music on offer in the department and the opportunities open to all Carthusians.

Well done everyone and a very happy Easter to you all.

Mr Jamal Sutton, Assistant Head of Music