Old Bedalian Caius Pawson returns to talk to students

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By Jake Scott, Block 4

On Wednesday 1 May, a small group of passionate Bedales musicians were fortunate enough to meet Old Bedalian Caius Pawson (2004), founder of record label Young Turks, an imprint of XL Recordings.

Caius came in to talk to us about his experience in the music industry and pass on his knowledge to our eager ears. Arriving at Bedales, he entered the studio almost as if he was in a trance, clearly amazed at how much Bedales has changed since he left. We introduced ourselves and then he began to explain how his experience at Bedales set him up for his career in the music industry.

During his time here, Caius helped organise various events, including the famous Jazz Folk Poetry (JFP) concert. After he left, he went on to curate various gigs and club nights, until he was picked up by XL Recordings.

Young Turks have signed a range of different artists, from the atmospheric English indie pop group The xx, to the electronic Quirke, modern jazz master Kamasi Washington and Mercury Prize winning Sampha.

Caius went into great detail when answering our questions about the music industry, not shying away from anything we threw at him. One of the main themes he explored was the creative relationship between artists and who they work with. He explained that his job as a manager is to guide the artists, not necessarily tell them how to think or what to write about.

It was a greatly inspiring talk for us to experience – one that we could not get anywhere other than Bedales.

Youth choir and orchestra experiences

By Annia Grey, 6.1

Over the Easter break, I spent a week with the National Youth Choir on an intensive training course, finishing the week with a concert in St George’s Hall, Liverpool, where I sang the soprano line as a solo in Poulenc’s Videntes Stellam. I also had a solo in Robert Brook’s arrangement of Elton John’s Rocket Man, which reached a top B! Finally, I spent a day recording the pieces to be added to the National Youth Choir’s album.

By Sampson Keung, 6.1

This year, George Harlan, Claude Barker and I are participating in the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra. It is such an amazing opportunity for us to play with other talented musicians in Hampshire who are a similar age.

Over the Easter break, we went to Bryanston School in Dorset for a residential course with the orchestra. We spent most of the time rehearsing two major repertoires – Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass – that we will perform in the upcoming concerts. These pieces are very challenging and we learnt a lot during the rehearsal.

Apart from playing music, we also enjoyed a great variety of activities with other members of the orchestra. In one of the informal concerts, I was so pleased to have the chance to perform with the percussion ensemble, while Claude showed off his amazing piano skill in the piano recital. We finished the week with a final concert, playing the Symphony No. 10.

Musicians’ work showcased at Spring Concert

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By Ho Keung, 6.1

The Spring Concert last Wednesday (13 March) showcased all the hard work from musicians across the school. The concert started with the Concert Band playing Poet and Peasant Overture by Franz Von Suppé. All the musicians enjoyed the unique and fun ensemble experience.

Our newly established Woodwind Ensemble presented the audience with a rather cheeky piece of music by Debussy – his famous Cake Walk. The Percussion Ensemble once again performed a high standard of music. This year we have three amazing new musicians in the Percussion Ensemble, who played Autumn by Vivaldi and Mission: Impossible by Lalo Schifrin, arranged by our percussion teacher, Simon Whittaker-Wade.

The Orchestra also amazed the audience with Dance Bacchanal from the Opera Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saens, as well as the theme tune from Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore. They are both technical, demanding pieces and the orchestra performed them really well.

After all the instrumental works, we had the Chamber Choir singing Miserere by Allegri. The highlight of the piece came when our soprano singer, Annia Grey, sang the famous ‘Top C’ note in her solo. Next, the school choir sang the Mass No. 2 in G by Schubert. Two singers who touched the heart of the audience are Isabella Doyle and Cassius Kay through their duet and solo.

Finally, the Jazz Band marked the end of the concert with three pieces, and Aidan Hall once again turned himself into Michael Bublé and sang Feeling Good. The Jazz Band, as usual, played to the highest standard and really entertained the audience.

Thank you to Doug Mcilwraith and Giacomo Pozzuto for their hard work on the concert, as well as Neil Hornby, who helped to run the concert, and the visiting music staff, who rehearsed with the musicians. We are so grateful to have some really talented staff – including Jo, Julia, Martin, Lucy and Clare – who joined us to take part in the course. And of course, thank you to Cathy Knowles, the Music School Administrator, for all her support to the Music Department every day.

Bedales Rock Show raises over £6k for the John Badley Foundation

By Neil Hornsby, Head of Contemporary Music

Twelve months ago, after the congratulations had died down following a hugely successful Bedales Rock Show 2018, the most common phrases I heard included “What are you going to do next year, with so many amazing 6.2s leaving?” and “The Rock Show will never be the same again”!

True, 20 of last year’s 30 songs were sung by 6.2s, and after hearing these comments so frequently, I started to feel a little worried myself. However, I was aware that a backbone of very promising talent remained at Bedales, so we set out on the herculean journey towards the Rock Show 2019.

I challenged Block 4 students to play like sixth formers, sixth formers to perform like professionals and we all worked harder than ever before to see if we could come close to matching our 2018 effort. After a relaxing half term break, I still can’t believe how spectacularly our amazing group of students pulled off such a successful show.

Everyone performed brilliantly and it was fantastic to see so many young musicians rising to the challenge. Over the three nights, the Rock Show also raised £6,192 for the John Badley Foundation, which offers financial support through bursaries, giving young people a chance to benefit from the transformational opportunity a Bedales education can provide.

Interestingly, no one this time has asked me “What at are you going to do next year?” As it looks like we’re now set for several years to come!

See more photos from the Rock Show 2019 here.

Bedales hosts first Classical Music Day

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By Mary Wang, 6.1

On 11 February, the musicians at Bedales helped with Classical Music Day and enjoyed a busy day with pupils from Bohunt, The Petersfield School, Prebendal and Dorset House. The day started with Doug McIlwraith leading the pupils doing a series of fun vocal exercises, followed by learning When the Saints Go Marchin’ In with Giacomo Pozzuto.

Afterwards, we split into sections and rehearsed orchestral pieces. Jonny, Sampson and I had a nice time teaching the pupils how to play percussion instruments. Although it was their first time trying out these instruments, they progressed quickly and performed McIlwRave, a piece composed by Doug, with the orchestra in front of the parents at the end of the day.

The pupils had a samba session with Simon after lunch, experimenting with different instruments and complex rhythm patterns. Later, the pupils listened to a few songs performed by the musicians involved in this year’s Rock Show. Claude also played one of Schubert’s beautiful Impromptus, which the pupils enjoyed a lot as well.

After a final rehearsal, the orchestra was ready for a presentation to the parents. Even though there was not a lot of time for them to practice, the pupils still did an outstanding job, and the parents were very impressed. 

Despite the fact that it was quite tiring and time consuming moving the percussion instruments to the Lupton Hall, we still had a pleasant time, especially working with the younger kids. Huge thanks to Doug and Giacomo and other staff for organising this wonderful event and all their help.

See more photos from the day here.

Baroque Recital & Music Scholars’ Concert – review

By Sampson Keung, 6.1 Music Scholar

The Baroque Recital (17 January) was a great opportunity for Bedales musicians to learn about music from 1600-1750. I really enjoyed how extraordinary the musicians were in the concert. Sara Timossi, who teaches violin at Bedales, showed some really amazing baroque violin skills in the concert, alongside an award-winning cellist, harpsichordist and theorbo player, which we’d never experienced before.

This is also the first time that we saw a theorbo, a Baroque string instrument, which we learned about in a fascinating workshop that preceded the concert. Some Bedales musicians even had the chance to play with the professional baroque players, which was a fantastic opportunity and strengthened our playing skills.

The following week, the Music Scholars’ Concert (23 January) gave our wonderful music scholars a chance to showcase their hard work over the last term. Music in the evening including Chopin, Mozart, Boyce and Beethoven, with keyboard, string, brass and voice. We were grateful to see so many talented musicians from Block 3 right up to 6.2, and they played to a very high standard.

Thank you to Doug and Giacomo for all their help and piano accompaniment.

 

Cecilia Concert raises £1.5k for John Badley Foundation

By Giacomo Pozzuto, Music Teacher

As the audience enjoyed a final encore of Goodnight Sweetheart from the particularly fine Chamber Choir last month, we had a chance to reflect on the successes of the school musicians this term.

A gargantuan effort was required by all of them to produce such a wealth of variety and sheer polish for this year’s concert, to honour the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia, and in aid of the John Badley Foundation. The music community at Bedales are thankful for their time, effort and expertise.

The evening’s entertainment began with Concert Band thumping, albeit with extreme sensitivity, through Dave Gorham’s wild-west-bareback-riding Compton Ridge Overture. It was a particularly strong performance from our brass and percussion, who in turn showed their own turn in smaller ensembles throughout the evening. The percussion ensemble took us to Hawaii via The Four Freshmen and Poinciana and brass ensemble transporting the audience to the candlelit halls of 16th century Bavaria.

Chamber music has proved a particular highlight of this term’s work and our cello ensemble with Will Lithgow at the helm sailed expertly through a transcription of the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and, more cerebrally, A-Ha’s Take on Me arranged expertly by the man himself. “It seemed a good idea at the time,” he told the audience about the piece, which was performed complete with synth drum patches for that ’80s airbrushed feel!

The School Orchestra gave the audience a consummate rendition of Vaughan Williams’s pastoral idyl Linden Lea, highlighting a particularly homogenous and sensitive string section, then stirringly romped through Mendelssohn’s Marsch der Priester from Athalie.

Our massed choirs have been working particularly well in refining their quality and production of sound. Chamber Choir provided real polish to the evening accuracy and complete poise in delivery of three difficult pieces. Choir’s stirring representation of Aston’s So they gave their bodies to the commonwealth – entirely apt for this year and this month – and Haydn’s Insanae et Vanae Curae brought together all ages, abilities and personified music’s true community spirit.

Barbershop offered a tantalising morsel into the work they have been doing this term to broaden their repertoire – we’ll hear more from them very soon I’m sure.

Finally, we heard from the Jazz Band, which is growing in strength and quality with excellent solos from both staff and students and an early stocking-filler from Aiden ‘Buble’ Hall.

The musicians are indebted to Doug, Will, Giacomo, the incredibly talented visiting music staff for their expert guidance as well as Neil Hornsby for running such a slick show and to Cathy Knowles for her warm, comforting matriarchal presence in the Music School (and her constant supply of cakes!)

The evening raised £1.5k for the John Badley Foundation, which offers financial support through bursaries, giving more young people a chance to benefit from the transformational opportunity a Bedales education can provide.

Band Night in the Quad

By Imogen Mayhook-Walker, 6.2

Photos by Eva Du

Last Thursday it was Band Night in the Quad. After a week and a half of intense preparation, all the students involved, including myself, performed to a full house.

The highlights were undoubtedly Safi Kazim’s opening and closing numbers, and Natural Woman, performed by Millie Bolton. Raffy Henry not only delivered a haunting performance of Like Gold but he also was there for every rehearsal to ensure everyone sounded perfect in the studio.

There were also some outstanding new performers; Lara Rippinger’s performance of Unstoppable was one of the stand outs of the night and Miranda Woods-Ballard delivered a great performance of Figure It Out by Royal Blood.

Band Night is always one of the highlights in the Bedales Calendar and this year did not disappoint. Musicians including Kai Macrae, Monty Bland, Minna Hall and many more gave up so much of their time and performed with so many different people.

A huge thank you to Rod for all the work he put in to building the stage and running the tech throughout the show and a well done to everyone involved for a great night, but especially to Neil Hornsby whose tireless work and encouragement led to such an amazing show.

Mental Health and Arts Education – are we missing a trick?

By Phil Tattersall-King, Director of Drama, Dance and Bedales Arts Programme

Hot on the heels of the Prime Minister announcing that the government is to reform mental health with a particular focus on young people, a new report from the Culture Learning Alliance (CLA) has confirmed that taking part in arts subjects can help children to improve their academic and social skills, and to express their ideas. On the face of it, these are pretty much distinct events, but I would argue that perhaps they shouldn’t be.

One in four people has a mental disorder at some point in their life, and young people are affected disproportionately; over half of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by 18. To this end, the government is to provide additional training for teachers, an extra £15m for community care, and improved support in the workplace. Meanwhile, at the launch of the CLA report Imagine Nation: the value of Cultural Learning, president of the Royal Academy of Dance Darcey Bussell called for ‘physical literacy’ to be taught four times a week, and for protection and expansion of the arts curriculum in schools. The CLA observes that we have seen a decline in the number of children taking arts subjects, a reduction in arts teaching hours and fewer arts teachers employed. In turn, a government spokesperson has stressed the importance of music and the arts for transforming lives and providing opportunities.

For my own part, I wonder whether schools, and the arts in particular, might have an important role to play in the development of good mental health in young people, and offer government an educational option beyond dealing better with the obverse.

All over the world, staff and students in drama departments strive to provide a glimpse of worlds different from the ones we inhabit. Sometimes it’s a better world, sometimes worse – either way, theatre aims to change us as we get lost in the one we have created. The theatre of Bryony Kimmings and the spoken word of Cecilia Knapp do so to raise overtly issues concerning mental health that might otherwise remain hidden, and we have been keen to introduce students to their work. No less importantly, our students are increasingly the producers and thinkers behind theatrical ideas. We regularly stage devised performances, and exam boards all encourage students to devise their own work. The struggles involved with presenting their thoughts in this way have raised the game of a drama student, and made them wiser to the complexities of relationships. I can think of many students about whom teachers in other subjects have expressed concerns that they don’t ‘share’ in class, learning through drama that they can say their piece, and that the world will not end if they are challenged. It is immensely gratifying when, invariably, we find that this new confidence has transferred to their lessons in other subjects.

Whilst my own experience is purely anecdotal, it chimes with the CLA’s thoroughly-evidenced findings that theatre and drama improve young people’s social skills and emotional wellbeing, and that engaging in the arts increases young people’s resilience. The report cites evidence from the UK that art and music-related leisure at the age of 16 increases the odds of civic engagement at age 29 and, according to American studies, that an arts-rich education results in a greater likelihood of voting and participation in a political campaign. It also cites findings from a recent systematic review of relevant literature which found that volunteering and caring are both developed by arts engagement.

The social benefits of such outcomes are pretty much self-evident, but a closer look at the idea of ‘resilience’ – an idea with particular currency in discussions of education and young people’s mental health in the UK – suggests that there is a significant health benefit as well.

Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg draws on the pioneering work of Emmy Werner in developing strategies to help young people develop resilience, which he describes as the capacity of young people to face, overcome, and be strengthened and even transformed by adversity. Werner’s work in Hawaii – in an area with high levels of adult unemployment and substance abuse – found that two thirds of young people exhibited destructive behaviours. Crucially, however, a third did not, and she found that these young people shared important characteristics – a finding reinforced in subsequent research.

Gregg stresses that, amongst other things, resilient young people develop absorbing passions, with their self-esteem boosted by having developed expertise, thus reinforcing the importance of practice and persistence. They have the facility of seeing life ‘as it is’ – knowing that bad things happen and how to deal with them, but also knowing that there are plenty of good things. They also do good, thus benefiting from a boost to their immune system and general well-being, and enjoy a sense of being part of something greater than themselves, such as a philosophy or a cause.

Looked at purely through the prism of young people’s mental health (there are other compelling reasons, of course), there would seem to a health benefit implicit in making arts education more of a priority. I believe that recent years have seen the arts marginalised in government’s enthusiasm for STEM subjects and the wider belief that the value of school is best understood in terms of GDP and economic competitiveness. If Theresa May is really serious about safeguarding young people’s mental health, she might do well to rethink – school is surely about all aspects of young people’s wellbeing, and there is a clear case for understanding arts education is essential in this regard.

‘Mind blowing’ performance of The Messiah

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What an honour it was to witness the music department’s much anticipated performance of Handel’s Messiah. We often forget what a comparatively small school we are and to produce such a juggernaut of a performance is mind blowing.

The Messiah is a piece of work that we all know, or think we know, and is often performed in parts, traditionally at Christmas although the piece was written for Easter. Nick Gleed, not known to be shy and retiring, bravely and skilfully directed the entire piece.

When speaking to Matthew Rice, Chairman of Governors, in the interval he commented that in days of yore soloists would have been shipped in. I asked what the difference was now, and he replied “the teaching”. So enormous credit must go to our back stage heroes who can elicit such a beautiful noise from young lungs. From the first note of Alex Yetman, we knew we were in for a treat.

It is perhaps unfair to single out any of the soloists but my evening was made complete by the purity of Pippa Lock’s voice and the wonderful surprise of James Holt singing Soprano. How delightful it is to see so many boys obviously enjoying the choral experience and the combined choirs filled the Quad spectacularly.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the delight of seeing and hearing Caleb on cello, playing with the expertise we have come to expect of this talented young musician. The Quad was full of parents, friends and visitors and the school must feel proud that everyone left knowing they had witnessed something very special.

View photos

By Jenni Brittain, Teacher of Drama and Housemistress


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.