By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Last Monday was said to be one of the most depressing days of the year in the annual cycle of morale – any tonic effect of the festive season has dissipated, the days are still short and the costs of Christmas are coming home to roost in credit card bills. In schools, the harsh reality of mock exam results outline a demanding path ahead.
Here there are some major reasons to perk up and appreciate what we have. Step out at first light and look up – here are hoar frost mornings in our National Park setting which boost the spirits; walk back across the Orchard at four in the afternoon and admire the warmest of glows on the red-brick Memoral Library front as it catches the last of the day’s sun: “duskily glowing,” to transpose an Edward Thomas phrase.
The other big reason to be cheerful is the annual Rock Show and the final stages of the work that leads up to it. I will leave a full, music critic’s account to others better qualified, but having now seen all the Rock Shows since they started early in my time – 2004, and with my senses still pleasantly abuzz with last night’s fantastic performance – 2 1/2 hours of sustained music – here are a few thoughts.
Most importantly, I have no doubt that this event has become one of the most important catalysts and crucibles for student creativity and its accompanying disciplines; and that is saying a lot in in a school often associated with creativity. The Rock Show is spur and showcase for hours of song writing, music tuition and practice; it is also a vehicle for exploration of how human ingenuity and technology connect.
It is a display of a pretty full spectrum of contemporary music, with jazz, blues, folk and most kinds of rock. This year, perhaps above any, had an extraordinary range of moods and styles within the individual vocalists.
The Rock Show is an illustration of how well instruments and skills associated with the world of classical music work alongside the contemporary music staples of electric guitars and drums.
It provides the best kind of laboratory for experimentation: take, for example, the moments this year when music whose origins seemed more from the laptop than the keyboard was being conjured by its creator (James) with an ingenuity and panache that had as much in common with Gothic sorcery as conventional music.
Lastly, if there is a collective operation that requires teamwork of the highest order and the orderly control of human ego, curiously it is this.
Bravo, musicians, the supporting technical crew and Neil Hornsby.