‘Uplifting’ annual Cecilia Concert

By Annia Grey and Jonny Greenfield, 6.2

On Wednesday night, Bedales musicians embarked on their annual Cecilia Concert, which this year took place in the Lupton Hall. It was a night of uplifting and challenging choral and instrumental music, covering a multitude of musical styles ranging from Renaissance to modern jazz, showcasing the sheer volume of talent at Bedales.

The concert commenced with the Orchestra boldly and sensitively performing the first movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony (pictured above during rehearsals), which was conducted brilliantly by the Director of Music, Doug McIlwraith.

This was followed by the Student Orchestra, directed by Sampson Keung and Mary Wang, who demonstrated impressive leadership and conducting skills. Weeks of rehearsals and hard work paid off when they performed Elgar’s famous Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit with much conviction and energy.

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New Music Technology A Level launching September 2020

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By Neil Hornsby, Head of Contemporary Music

From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose Music Technology as one of their A Level options.

Bedales has a rich tradition of students successfully following career paths into the music industry – from major label recording artists, instrumentalists and producers, to record label bosses, musical directors, music managers, A&R and sound engineers.

The Music Technology A Level course will teach students how great music is produced and give them the skills to create compelling music of their own. Delivered within Bedales’ successful and innovative Contemporary Music department, the course will provide the scope and framework for students to develop key skills and prepare them to work independently through personal and collaborative projects.

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Memorable third annual Three Schools’ Concert

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By Neil Hornsby, Head of Contemporary Music
Photo by Abby Hilton, 6.1

The Thursday before half term saw a wonderful musical collaboration between Bedales, Dunhurst and Dunannie in the third annual Three Schools’ Concert. A packed Lupton Hall witnessed a night like no other with 83 students taking part, ranging in age from seven all the way up to 18.

There were performances featuring each school, including Head Girl Lara Rippinger’s take on Esperanza Spalding’s I Know You Know, Group 3 Dunhurst student Eliot Santos’ show-stopping performance of Karl Bohm’s Perpetual Motion and the Dunannie Year 3 choir’s wonderful performance of Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.

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Sight Reading Workshop with choral director Ralph Allwood

By Miranda Robertson, Block 3

On 9 October, the renowned conductor and choirmaster Ralph Allwood came to Bedales for a very musical day. Ralph was for many years the Director of Music at Eton College and he now conducts the Choir of Queen’s College Cambridge and the Chapel Choir of Trinity Laban College.

Ralph has recently written a book all about how to sight-sing. All of the singers in the school were given a copy, and all morning we were coached by Ralph. It was a really good workshop and we all improved greatly.  A few of us also had lunch with Ralph and Doug, where we were very fortunate to be given lots of advice about singing and the music industry.

After lunch, the Chamber Choir came together and we sang lots of different pieces we had been working on in choir. Ralph coached us and by the end we sounded like a different choir! A thoroughly enjoyable day – thank you to Doug for organising and Ralph for giving up his time.

Bedales musicians perform at Women in Business Awards

By Minna Hall, 6.1

A different and inspiring night was had by four Bedales contemporary musicians as we performed at the Women in Business Awards in Windsor on 30 September.

The Women in Business Awards celebrates the tremendous work leading ladies have done to achieve their goals and to inspire other women to follow their own ambitions. The overriding message from the keynote speakers was that you can accomplish your goals if you work hard and put your mind to it.

We were invited to perform music to add to the ambience of the evening. Safi Kazim once again blew the audience away with her outstanding originals. Mabel Watson and Lila Levingston also impressed the crowd with their beautifully sung covers, and I accompanied them all!

We all thoroughly enjoyed our evening and it was interesting to meet such pioneering women who wanted to share their experiences with other successful – and aspiring – professionals. A big thank you to Tamsin Napier-Munn, Host and Manager of the Women in Business Awards, for inviting us to play at such a thought-provoking event, and we hope to be invited back next year!

Tamsin added: “The Women in Business Awards is one of the highlights of the year in the Thames Valley and the South, celebrating, encouraging and inspiring business women in the region who have had the courage to step up and be recognised for their achievements. This year, we were delighted to have four talented performers from Bedales sing and play for us, helping us create a wonderful atmosphere. A huge thank you to Mabel, Minna, Safi and Lila, for your professionalism and commitment to the evening. You are inspiring, hugely talented young women; thank you for sharing your talent with us.”

Music update: exam results, conservatoires and County Youth Orchestra

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By Doug Mcilwraith, Director of Music

Congratulations to Bedales students for excellent performances in their recent music exams. After attending the Chetham School of Music’s summer piano course for advanced help on piano techniques – including an introduction to music for prepared piano – 6.2 student Mary Wang was awarded a Distinction in Grade 8 piano. The following students passed with Merit: Juliet Solomon-Solymar (Block 3, Grade 4 oboe); Beatrice Lingham (Block 4, grade 6 piano); Jamie Loudon (Block 4, Grade 2 percussion); Leela Walton (Block 4, Grade 6 violin); and Annia Grey (Block 5, Grade 5 violin). Harry Hetherington (Block 3) and Imogen Wright (Block 3) both achieved strong passes in Grade 5 oboe and Grade 3 trumpet respectively.

We now have several of our advanced musicians who take extra lessons in London on Saturdays at the country’s top music conservatoires. Jake Lacey (6.1) and Lila Levingston (Block 5) attend the Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Tiger Braun-White (Block 5) attends the Royal Academy of Music and Kai MacRae (6.1) attends the National Youth Jazz Orchestra junior course. All of these institutions demand the absolute very best from their students and we congratulate our students for winning places to study and take part in their programmes.

Bedales now has four students playing in the County Youth Orchestra: Mary Wang and Sampson Keung (6.2) play percussion and Sampson is section principal, George Harlan (Block 5) plays horn and Monty Bland (Block 5) joins this year on double bass. They are working on some of the greatest ever works for orchestra: Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, which changed the course of music history, and Mahler’s 5th Symphony.

It is so important for all of us to compare what we do at Bedales to what others do in other communities and we congratulate our musical ambassadors for striving to work with the best young musicians in the south of England and ensuring that Bedales is very much on the musical map.

Merry Evening kicks off exciting year of Bedales Music

By Neil Hornsby, Head of Contemporary Music
Photos by Sashia Monnier, Block 4

This Thursday saw the first big musical event of the year with Merry Evening in the Lupton Hall, a night of original songs, pop covers, classical music and magic! A wide range of great performances from budding rock stars in Block 3 to a rousing finale by The Upstanding Gents, our dynamic band of sixth form rockers. There were ten debuts out of 24 performances, roared on by an extremely enthusiastic audience. A memorable evening for all involved got what promises to be a great year for music at Bedales off to an exciting start!