We have already enjoyed some wonderful occasions and highlights – from Messiah to Big Band Bonanza – it has been a very busy time in the Music department.
As the Christmas-Epiphany season reaches its end, as the days begin to get longer and the leaves soon to begin reappearing on the trees, life at Charterhouse continues to soldier on with all its success stories. Despite the highs and lows of the January mock exams, complete with inevitable aftermath and reapplication of scholarly attitudes, pupils continue to throw themselves into the co-curricular programme at Charterhouse, taking advantage of all that it has to offer in escape of those dreaded “January Blues!” Typically, Music strives to be an invigorating and uplifting turn from these sentiments and Long Quarter (our Spring Term) has already seen some wonderful occasions and highlights.
Day one of term, no rest for the wicked, and Schola Cantorum found themselves in a new city and a new county, singing as they were for Choral Evensong, this time at Winchester Cathedral, one of the finest buildings in the country. Offering music by Howells and Cox, the choir sang beautifully, enjoying the new acoustic and setting to offer this most special of services. Choral Evensong continues to be a real strength at Charterhouse, every Thursday at 5.30pm in the Chapel, a most magical way to end the day; do come along to what is always a most wonderful celebration of music and liturgy.
A wonderful afternoon was similarly had by all on the 18 January for the annual Prep School String Day. Directed by our superb new Head of Strings, Mrs Harris, 28 string players from five different schools, alongside a handful of Charterhouse’s own pupils, learnt some brilliant repertoire and developed new ensemble playing skills whilst making friends and having a great time! Charterhouse was thrilled to welcome pupils from Edgeborough, Westbourne House, Downsend School, Aldro and Hoe Bridge. We were especially lucky to welcome two Carthusian siblings to the music-making day, one of whom (Gideon) played beautifully in an arrangement of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus for 2 harps and Viola alongside his brother (Dylan), Ms Hawker and Mr Xerri. All of the young string players involved should be very proud of everything they achieved in the short afternoon of music-making. A special thanks to the Carthusian pupils, our instrumental teachers Ms Hawker (viola) and Mr Xerri (harp) alongside Dr Millard and Ms Brown, all who all did so much to make the day run smoothly.
All the while, rehearsals had been in full flow for the first outing of the revised and restructured Charterhouse Choral Society. Directed by Mr McKee, the massed choir comprised singers from pupils and staff, parents and friends, and also a collaboration with the Waverley Singers. Repertoire this year was Handel’s most glorious Messiah, performed in Chapel with chamber orchestra and soloists. Whilst the singing from the chorus was exciting and powerful, the playing from the orchestra vibrant and colourful, the direction from Mr McKee excellent and poised, it is the soloists we must pay perhaps the most credit to. Handel’s Messiah is notoriously one of the more difficult oratorios in the repertoire to tackle, particularly from the soloist’s perspective; therefore typically taken by professionals, Charterhouse had a selection of pupils who threw their hat into the ring and gave not just an excellent, but mature and musical account of themselves, delighting the audience and performers alike. Huge congratulations must therefore be given to Tianzong, Jago, William, Bella, Laura, Coco, Matteo, Robyn, Lydia, Evelina and Jackson for their various solos. Bravo tutti!
Leave-Weekend offered some well-deserved breathing space but just on the other side was Band Show week, now with its new name Big Band Bonanza! Under its inspirational direction from Head of Woodwind Mr Corkin, this annual fixture always delights audiences in the BTT, offering a jazz-night inspired evening of soul, swing and jazz. Over the two nights, gentle jazz played by (perhaps aptly named?!) William Hammond welcomed the guests into the theatre, before Mr Corkin led the musicians onto stage for an hour of toe-tapping popular numbers, played excellently by Big Band. There were numerous stand-out solos from seasoned jazzers in the band, Messrs Jago and Jeremy, and honorable mention must also go to those pupils performing in the band for the very first time, sixth formers and Year 9's alike. Compèring the evening and also offering superb solos with the band were the “no-strangers-to-the-BTT” team of Fleur and Oliver whose ditty anecdotes before each mini set of numbers provided entertaining insights into life at Charterhouse. Other soloists and also making their debut with the band were Oliver and Lyra. On the big stage, under the lights and to a captive audience, singing with feeling and true style came most naturally to all four of the singers, with some truly outstanding and moving performances. This was a most excellent of occasions, as ever, and huge thanks to Mr Corkin, the BTT team and all the pupils involved for a truly enjoyable couple of evenings.
With Exeat (half term) on the horizon, no doubt rest and relaxation is needed by all. Highlights of the second half will be both Woodwind and String Prizes and then into this term’s musical, Legally Blonde – be sure to get your tickets before they all go!