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.

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From Stalin’s Moscow to the Austria of Mozart and Brahms

The Cecilia Concert has the reputation for its eclectic programming but 2013’s must be the most extreme yet: from Stalin’s Moscow to the Austria of Mozart and Brahms with plenty of stops in between. Keir Rowe began the music with a brilliantly spirited performance of Shostakovich’s Suite for Variety Stage Orchestra. Clearly this was the composer letting off steam during the Soviet Union’s worst decade and the Concert Band whirled their way expertly through the music. The next part of the orchestral half was much more traditional with the First Orchestra playing Brahms’ St Anthony Variations and Will Lithgow conducting the Chamber Orchestra in a wonderfully poised rendition of Mozart’s Divertimento. The second half of the concert was devoted to choral music with the Barbershop Boys, the Cecilia Consort and Choir all performing. As a singer in the latter Nick Gleed‘s programme notes confirmed my fears calling the C.P.E. Bach Magnificat ‘astonishingly difficult’ and ‘unfathomable’ and yet the audience enthusiastically received the 182-bar ‘Amen’. Congratulations must go to everyone in the Music Department for arranging yet another highly successful concert.

By Nick Meigh, Teacher of History and Choir member

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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.

Music case study – Josh Grubb, 6.2

How old were you when you joined Bedales Schools?
I joined Bedales in Block 4 at the age of 14.

What was your previous school?
Hurstpierpoint College.

What are your preferred instrument(s)?
I’m very biased towards the instrument that I play, clarinet. I love its tone and the way that this changes from dark and woody, to pure and resonant, and then shrill and piercing as you ascend further up its range. It has the ability to produce a very quiet and loud sound and has a large range of almost four octaves. Although there isn’t a huge amount of repertoire for the clarinet, the small portion of it that I’ve played so far I have found to be really enjoyable. But despite my terrible bias, I enjoy listening to all instruments!

What do you consider to be your best musical achievements to date?
I began to learn clarinet at Bedales in Block 4 and received a Grade 8 distinction at the end of Block 5, which I was really happy with.

How has Bedales helped the development of your music?
Bedales is a hive of musical activity. I have been fortunate enough to participate in the Concert Band, Orchestra, Chamber Choir, Choir, Barber Shop Boys and Madrigal group. I was allowed to run a Wind Ensemble for two terms, which was hard work, but good fun and a really good learning experience. So in that sense, I have been able to play and sing as much as I could have possibly wanted! The music staff are fantastic and work so hard to ensure that every student is able to make the most of music at Bedales.

Who or what is your greatest musical inspiration?
My clarinet teacher, Keir Rowe, has been my main inspiration. He has always provided me with repertoire which has been suitably above my skill level at every stage, and lessons always seem to fly by. I could not ask for a better teacher, and I’ll be very sad when I leave Bedales to have to find a different clarinet teacher! I also draw inspiration from Martin Fröst and Michael Collins, who are two of the world’s most incredible clarinetists. I had the opportunity to page-turn for Michael Collins’ pianist at a concert this year, which was such an incredible experience: to hear Michael Collins first hand, and to also meet him.

Any musical interests outside of lessons (orchestras/ societies/ bands)?
As mentioned above, there are a huge number of opportunities available to exploit music further in the school. There are also opportunities in Petersfield such as the Petersfield Orchestra, who I played with at their recent concert this year.

What do you hope to achieve in your music over the next few years at Bedales and beyond?
I am currently preparing for the Cambridge Pre-U music recitals (Bedales’ A-level equivalent music qualification) and a clarinet diploma. I have also applied for the National Youth Wind Orchestra, who audition later this year, so I have quite a lot to be doing! I am going to try my hardest in all of those, and hopefully they’ll go well.

What do you like best about Music at Bedales?
The quality of music at Bedales is unbelievable. Considering how much of it we make every year, with music before every Jaw and assembly, and concerts every term and at various other events throughout the year, the quality that is maintained is even more astounding. I can’t really say what I like the most about music at Bedales, only that I’m so glad that I came here and really discovered it. I don’t think I would have nearly the same affiliation with it had I gone to any other school.

Josh Grubb

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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.

Music case study – Toby Matimong, 2013 leaver

How old were you when you joined Bedales Schools (did you start at Dunannie/ Dunhurst/ Bedales)?
I joined Bedales Schools in the last year of Dunhurst, at the age of 12.

What was your previous school?
I had been at The Portsmouth Grammar School for 3 years beforehand, having moved there from The Channel Islands.

What are your preferred instrument(s)?
I’m constantly trying to decide which is my first study: piano, trombone or singing? I’ve come to the conclusion that if forced to continue with one alone I would choose piano, owing to its huge repertoire and musical usefulness.

What do you consider to be your best musical achievements to date?
I was overjoyed to be awarded a Piano Grade 8 mark of 146 out of 150!

How has Bedales helped the development of your music?
Each member of the music department, peripatetic teachers included, is determined to fit music into and around the already hectic timetable. It’s this continuous dedication that has allowed me and my peers to develop in the last 6 years, and the same dedication has inspired us to aim even higher.

Who or what is your greatest musical inspiration?
It’s always difficult to say who or what is a source of inspiration. I suppose I’ve learnt from my instrumental and academic teachers alike that the most successful way to learn is to enjoy; by enjoying something you will be inspired to do better with it.

Any musical interests outside of lessons (orchestras/ societies/ bands)?
I’ve been playing first trombone in the First Orchestra and Concert Band for the last five years, as well as occasionally playing with the Chamber Orchestra, with whom I recently performed the third movement of Launy Grøndahl’s Trombone Concerto. I also sing in the school’s Chamber Choir and Cecilia Consort. On a more informal basis two other students and myself have spent the last 2 terms preparing a Haydn Piano trio for an examined recital, and I am part of the recently-founded Madrigal Society.

What do you hope to achieve in your music over the next few years at Bedales and beyond?
I have accepted a one-year placement in the music department of Sherborne School in conjunction with a choral scholarship at Sherborne Abbey. I’m looking forward to teaching and learning as much as I can, which will hopefully assist a university application to read music at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2014.

What do you like best about Music at Bedales?
Music is always about people; who you are performing with, who you learn from, who is conducting you, who you can share it with. Music at Bedales is full of wonderful people that make all of these experiences wonderful too.

Toby Matimong

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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.