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.

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.

 

Bedales artwork exhibited at the Southbank Undercroft

By Daniel Preece, Head of Art

Last year the architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, who designed the Art & Design building and Olivier Theatre, approached Bedales’ Art Department to create a piece for a temporary project space at the Southbank Undercroft – a space that the architects are renovating to transform into an educational space.

As the 6.1 art project for the autumn term had been based around the urban environment, it seemed a good opportunity to explore the processes and ideas that had been introduced to the students and to make a response to the architecture of the buildings Feilden Clegg Bradley had designed for the school.

This involved drawing from the architecture, creating collages in pairs from these and personal photographs taken. These collages were then combined and used to create a mural that spanned 122cm x 366cm. A revolving team of students worked on the painting for over a week and the panels were then installed in the space at the Undercroft on 4 December.

The finished work was shown alongside work from students of Manchester School of Art, Chelsea School of Art, The Red House, Plymouth School of the Creative Arts and Plymouth College of Art. It provided a backdrop for the day conference to discuss the wider issues of the role of architectural space and curriculum in art education in schools and colleges.

Members of the panel included Peter Clegg (Feilden Clegg Bradley); Patrick Brill OBE RA (Bob and Roberta Smith); Clare Lilley (Yorkshire Sculpture Park); Andrew Brewerton (Plymouth School of the Creative Arts); and Samantha Cairns (Creative Learning Alliance).