One of the great strengths of music in Charterhouse is the quality of teaching. There are five full-time members of staff, all of whom bring a considerable breadth of professional experience to their teaching, providing pupils with a huge variety of musical opportunities at the highest level.
Music Scholarships are generous and competitive and the Director of Music, Mark Shepherd, usually meets prospective Music Scholars and their parents at the outset of their process of choosing a school. Whatever the musical interest of pupils, Charterhouse offers them a stimulating musical environment to help them reach their potential.
To learn more about Music at Charterhouse please view our video below:
Music for Everyone
Music has a long and fine tradition at Charterhouse, and Ralph Vaughan Williams was a pupil in the early days in Godalming. About half the pupils have music lessons, and many participate in other musical activities, like House Singing or the Concert Choir.
Pupils regularly perform in ten minute recitals during quarter (the morning break), and there is a host of choirs and ensembles: Chapel Choir, Chamber Choir, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra, Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble and Concert Band. Whatever the musical interest of pupils, Charterhouse offers a stimulating environment to help them reach their potential. A service of Evensong is sung every Tuesday by the Chamber Choir in the beautiful and impressive Chapel. The whole school comes together to celebrate a service each Friday, sung by the Chapel Choir. In the past, many students have gone on to University organ and choral scholarships.
As well as regular concerts and performances, there are competitions held throughout the academic year covering all the instrumental disciplines; students of all ages prepare repertoire to perform in front of celebrated musicians who visit Charterhouse to adjudicate the competitions.
A Musical Year at Charterhouse
With such a wealth of talent across the school, it is no surprise that Music features throughout the year in a variety of concerts. From the ten minute Quarter concerts to fully blown choir and orchestra concerts, there’s bound to be something for you. Here are just a few highlights.
The Band Show
Every year, the Charterhouse Jazz Band puts on a variety show in the Ben Travers Theatre, typically featuring an array of music from both the jazz standard and musical theatre repertoire. Interspersing the musical items are comedy skits and sketches put together by the pupils
The Band also plays at functions outside School and its foreign tours include the USA, Malta, Sicily, Paris and Spain.
Candlelit Carols, sung in the cavernous space of Charterhouse Chapel, has become one of the most celebrated events of the School calendar. The ceremony begins with a procession from the West End of the Chapel to which is sung the advent hymn, Come thou Redeemer of the Earth. A dialogue of readings and carols follows, finishing with the easterly procession to the Truth from Above. Many people attend some from a considerable distance, others from Godalming and from the School community itself. It is an occasion for the School to welcome visitors and to be enriched by the experience, whilst all who are there welcome in the spirit of Christmas.
A selection of carol performances is available below:
Orchestral and Choral Concerts
Christmas, Easter and Summer are the three end of term occasions for the large scale orchestral concerts. Symphony Orchestra regularly perform, often giving the chance to outstanding soloists to perform concertos also. In the Easter, the Concert Choir joins with the orchestra to perform a large-scale choral work. In the past, repertoire has covered both the St John and St Matthew Passion by JS Bach, settings of the Requiem by both Fauré and Duruflé, Feel the Spirit by John Rutter and Vivaldi’s Gloria. Concert Choir is the chance for students, staff, friends and family to sing alongside each other whilst tackling the major repertoire.
Plugged, Unplugged, Lack of Talent!
As well as the traditional, classical orchestral and ensemble music making, Charterhouse pupils run three successful events throughout the year at which acoustic numbers and performances by the numerous pupil bands shine through. Pupils showcase their talents and abilities, not just musical, but often combining theatre, dance art and music. These three events are entirely student run and offer an alternative side to music making, fully encompassing the creative arts.
Prep School Instrumental Days
Charterhouse is very proud of its links with many of the local schools in Surrey and further afield and there are excellent outreach programmes run by almost all departments in the school. The Music Department holds events for all the instrumental disciplines, we frequently combine forces for concert purposes and many of our staff and pupils visit schools to aid their musical endeavours.
Brahms & John Ireland
A chamber ensemble has competed each year in the Pro Corda Competition and has won their respective age category every year, including this year, in which a string trio performed Kodaly’s Serenade op.12. In 2016 the Charterhouse U14 Violin Quartet were awarded '
The String Orchestra has been for many years at the centre of a long tradition of string playing at Charterhouse. Concerts include regular appearances at both the School and at St Martin-In-The-Fields in London.
The Chamber Orchestra CD
The Chamber Orchestra has recently released a new CD of popular string music. It was recorded in Chapel over the last two years by a professional recording company, and John Parsons (former director of Chamber Orchestra) felt that it was the finest orchestra he had ever conducted at the school in his 20 years as Head of Strings.
The programme includes Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony, Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, a movement from Dvorák’s Serenade for Strings, Barber’s Adagio, and John Ireland’s Concertino Pastorale.
To make an appointment to meet Mark Shepherd, Director of Music, please contact the Music Administrator: