You get quite used to being surprised in my role – although it could keep you awake at night, the variousness of young human behaviour is often quite a tonic. Whilst in many organisations a bit of light-heartedness and some slightly eccentric dressing might be the end of it, here we started the day with one of the best student-led contributions to early morning notices ever – a delicately but lustily staged rendition of the barricades scene from Les Mis, accompanied by the thumping marching song and culminating an unusually adept piece of (deliberate) litotes (a humdrum plea for a lost biology file). On Friday night, in more decorous mode, we were surprised by a Spring Concert that embraced (first half only) the fantastically spirited (the final section of von Suppé) through the swirls of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and the elegance of CPE Bach’s Concerto in D Minor; choral glories engaged us in the second half – with glories such as Caccini’s Amarilli Mia Bella and Blow’s Salvator Mundi to the fore.
But perhaps the most wonderfully surprising event of the week was the Dunhurst Spring Concert, Rites and Revolutions, which took as its cue and inspiration the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. This was a bit of inspirational chutzpah – and a great credit to Director of Music Ben Harlan‘s creative spirit and the musical talent within our prep school. The embrace of breadth of musical tradition was warm – incorporating Nigerian Fela Kuti’s Zombie, Steep resident and First World War poet, Edward Thomas, the Kaiser Chiefs, JS Bach (Tiger B-W’s wonderful rendition of Partita), Stevie Wonder and Jonny Mercer (Autumn Leaves by the Dunhurst Jazz Academy). Having had some soupcons of the master himself at the start, it was still a wonderful surprise to find myself swept up in excerpts from The Rites of Spring in the finale – and all from the Blocks Orchestra – a stirring and surprising conclusion for any school concert, especially one from such young musicians.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
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.