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.

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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.

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

Gemma Klein Photography

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.