On Tuesday 2 October, Oakham School welcomed over 170 students from 13 prep schools for a fun-filled day of music-making. This year’s theme for Prep Schools’ Music Day was Flavours of Folk, involving string players and singers.
All the visiting pupils and staff were in high spirits as refreshments were enjoyed on arrival, ready to fuel-up for a busy day of music. During the morning, the pupils took part in workshops led by Oakham School’s Director of Music (Peter Davis), Head of Strings (Martin Cropper) and a team of staff from the Music Department.
After a delicious lunch, the pupils returned to the castle and chapel for their afternoon rehearsal sessions before the concert to conclude the day, showcasing their music-making to parents and staff. Joined by current pupils of Oakham School, the concert was packed with folk music from around the globe. Oakham’s Chamber Orchestra opened the concert with a selection of movements from Bártok’s Romanian Folk Dances, and these dramatic and lively dances captured the audience’s attention and filled the Chapel with all things folk! During the concert, we heard the visiting singers perform The Skye Boat Song, Scarborough Fair, Like a Singing Bird and Goin’ to Boston. Travelling from Scotland to England and then over to Kentucky, our visiting singers sang their hearts out, delivering a polished and enthusiastic performance. With only a few hours to prepare, their harmonies were executed beautifully and even some choreography was delivered with confidence.
Our visiting string players performed three short duos by Bártok (Teasing Song, Sorrow and Ruthenian Kolomeika) which make use of folk material from a number of Eastern European countries. The string players then performed one of the most famous pieces of folk-influenced music for strings, Czardas by Monti, arranged by our own string teacher, James Douglas. The players performed with great conviction and energy, receiving hearty and well-deserved applause. Next we were joined by Oakham School’s Chamber Choir, performing the well-known Drunken Sailor. This arrangement by Jonathan Willcocks throws the familiar folk tune of What shall we do with the drunken sailor? between the different voices of the choir, creating a whirlwind of asymmetrical rhythms and witty accompaniment figures.
For the finale, the singers and strings joined forces to perform Bob Chilcott’s moving arrangement of Londonderry Air, the well-loved folk song. Especially adapted by Peter Davis for our performers, the finale was a perfect conclusion to Prep Schools’ Music Day 2018.
Congratulations to all visiting students for all their achievements and a huge thank you to all members of staff involved to make this day so successful and enjoyable for all involved.