The beginning of this new school year has felt like much more of a renaissance than normal, following the reduced concerts of the past two school years. To gather with the wider Oakham community in itself was a delight, and the music offerings of Mr Peter Davis, Oakham School's Director of Music, was a startling reminder of what we have all missed so much.
The final Lunchtime concert for this academic year was given by the Chamber Choir, superbly conducted by our Director of Music, Mr Peter Davis. There could not have been a more fitting and poignant way to round of an exceptional year.
This week’s Music at Lunchtime recital was a feast of terrific piano playing, courtesy of gifted Form 5 pianists Jan & Obi. After a year of these fellow housemates spurring each other on in the pursuit of pianistic perfection, the recital offered a wonderful opportunity for us to enjoy their impressive music-making.
We were delighted to learn that Form 4 music scholar, Eddie, achieved an outstanding distinction mark in his ABRSM Grade 6 online performance grade exam back in March 2021, scoring no fewer than 147 marks out of a total possible mark of 150.
We were thrilled to be able to re-launch our live Music at Lunchtime recitals this week in the Chapel for our School community. This week's recitalists featured a selection of singers performing repertoire for their upcoming LCM music theatre exams.
We were delighted to hold our inaugural Oakham School Carol Composition Competition for our pupils this November. We were impressed with the creativity shown by the entrants and we look forward to showcasing recordings of the compositions in due course.
Ivor treated us to a wonderful bassoon recital of music from a variety of composers and genres for this week's lunchtime recital. It was a pleasure to listen to the warm tones of this minority instrument.
Since the start of term, Oakham musicians have been enjoying the return of indoor live performances by treating small, socially-distanced audiences to a programme of weekly Music at Lunchtime concerts.
While the School campus may not have been resounding with music-making this term, the Music Department was still able to produce a wonderful End of Year Concert, albeit virtually. The concert was as diverse as ever, featuring eleven performances from ten ensembles, seven of which were recorded from home.
Two of Oakham’s talented musicians have won accolades at the Nottingham Young Musician of the Year competition and this weekend they will be awarded their trophies and prizes, along with performing in the final.
We are delighted to be welcoming back Oakham School music staff, Anne Bolt, Martin Cropper and Richard Jenkinson to perform a captivating chamber music recital in the School Chapel this evening. Concerts Administrator, Sabine Russell, talks to cellist, Richard, ahead of the concert.
We were delighted to welcome nearly 200 visiting Prep School musicians to Oakham School on Tuesday 8 October for our annual Prep Schools’ Music Day. Taking the exciting theme Best of Broadway, this year’s event offered opportunities for brass, percussion & woodwind players and singers.
A talented Music Scholar from Oakham School has been invited to join the elite National Youth Chamber Choir – an accolade usually given to those who are beginning their professional singing careers, not when they are still studying at school!
Our Music at Lunchtime 2019/20 series began with our annual recital by Peter Davis, Director of Music, who treated us to two organ works of the Classical repertoire betwixt a piece of piano music by contemporary Latvian composer, Peteris Vasks.
The School’s orchestras have enjoyed an excellent year of performances, leading up to their final Oakham concert of the season on Friday 21 June. They offered a wide-ranging programme of popular orchestral classics, which was hugely appreciated by the Chapel audience.
The Chamber Choir traditionally gives the final lunchtime recital of the academic year during the Oakham Festival, and this year was no exception. The choir presented a programme contrasting French choral works with more contemporary spiritual arrangements by Ken Burton.
The final Lower School concert of the year was full of a large variety of performances with something for everyone. From ensembles to soloists, it was a chance for them to demonstrate all the skills they had been fine-tuning throughout the year.
Oakham School’s eleventh annual English Song Competition took place on Sunday 3 February 2019, and despite the bitterly cold weather, it was once again a glorious and warm-hearted celebration of singing at Oakham.
On Friday 12 October, the East-Midlands’ only professional and Grammy-nominated Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva come to Oakham School Chapel to perform The Italian Symphony, a balanced programme of virtuoso musicality.
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.
Award-winning group Classico Latino come to Oakham Chapel on Thursday 13 September to perform an eclectic mix of techniques and sounds, combining classical music and Latin American rhythms and melodies.
Professional musician and Old Oakhamain Maddy Aldis-Evans, returns to Oakham to perform in a concert entitled ‘The Italian Symphony” with Sinfonia Viva, the orchestra of the East Midlands, on Friday October 12.
Youth Brass 2000, whose members include Form 4's Lizzie and OO Adam Hebditch, were crowned champions at the European Youth Championships, finally adding a European title to their impressive list of contest achievements.
This week we were treated to a concert of highlights from last term’s Piano Duet Competition. This was a special event in itself as we celebrated the competition’s tenth anniversary, and featured new duets specially composed for Oakham students.
As part of the prestigious Brandenburg Choral Festival, on Thursday evening the Oakham School Chamber Choir performed a spectacular concert in the delightful setting of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.
Oakham’s choristers were privileged to be joined by distinguished organist and choir trainer, Steve Grahl, at the Choir Dinner on Saturday 13 January. It was particularly fitting to have the Director of Music from Peterborough with us as the senior musical representative of our diocesan cathedral.
It has become a tradition for Oakham’s Graduate Musician to give the first recital of the Spring Term, and so, this week, it was a real treat to hear baritone, George Cook, performing a selection of songs accompanied by Anne Bolt at the piano.
We entered into the spirit of Christmas with yesterday’s lunchtime recital given by ten of Oakham’s pianists. Between them, they performed Richard Rodney Bennett’s Partridge Pie, a suite of twelve miniatures reflecting on each of the twelve days of Christmas, with some witty references to the popular rhyme.
Our ensembles concerts are always a real favourite and this one was certainly no exception. Despite the chilly weather, a full audience of friends and family turned up to enjoy a concert of true musical variety given by five of the schools talented ensembles.
This week’s lunchtime recital was performed by our Form 3 music award holders: Lucy Collison and Natasha Erdmann (violin), Emily Spencer (clarinet), Owen Amende (horn) and James Eames (trombone). They were joined by Peter Davis (Director of Music) on piano to perform an arrangement of Thomas Dunhill's Quintet in E flat, op. 3.
The chamber music recital on Thursday 5 October was a tribute to the vast array of talent within the music department. The pupils performed with musicality and conviction, illustrating the hard work they must have put in to prepare for this recital.
Stunning recital of Shakespeare inspired songs 9 December 2016
Rebecca's recital on Wednesday showcased a delightful array of songs under her theme 'Shakespeare in Love'.
Where the bee sucks by Sullivan was bright and clear followed by the meaningful Ophelia's Song (Maconchy) which Rebecca sang with a beautiful tone. Quilter's It was a lover and his lass was sung with energy and spirit. Rebecca exhibited clear diction and a real sense of enjoyment.
In Take, O take those lips away the audience were treated to soaring high notes. More contemporary pieces ended the recital, with the powerful Somewhere by Bernstein closing the recital. This was sung with strong communication and the climatic style was embraced by Rebecca with both flair and understanding.
Sublime performance of English songs 11 November 2016
Dominic’s performance of a collection of English songs was simply sublime. His control and sheer musicality was just beautiful to behold, and I for one, was transported into an oasis of calm tranquillity as he sung beautiful song after beautiful song. That he also performed the whole recital from memory, also helped the feeling of connection between the music, the performer and the audience; simply wonderful.
Dominic’s baritone voice is full of richness and the calm that he achieved in both John Ireland’s Sea Fever and Ralph Vaughan William’s Silent Noon was delightful. Sandwiched between these two pieces was Roger Quilter’s Fear no more the heat o’ the sun and then Three Songs from George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad: Loveliest of Trees, When I was one and twenty and Is my team ploughing?
It was a real privilege to be able to hear and see a young musician perform with sure confidence and assuredness. A bright future awaits this young man.
Impressive and varied cello recital 9 November 2016
Form 7’s Issy gave Wednesday’s lunchtime recital, playing a varied programme of solo cello music by J.S. Bach, Paul Hindemith and Joseph Haydn.
The performance began, appropriately, with a prelude – the first movement of Bach’s third cello suite in C major. Bach’s genius in these works, as with the solo violin repertoire, is to unite melody and accompaniment into a single melodic strand, abandoning the conventional use of keyboard accompaniment. Issy showed an acute awareness of the harmony and counterpoint implied in the music, and achieved an effective singing quality particularly at the climactic end of the piece.
A complete contrast in sound-world, but still within the realm of unaccompanied cello music, Hindemith was next on the programme. Firstly, the central slow movement of the cello sonata (opus 25); an eerie piece, and sometimes mournful in character, despite the composer’s trademarked objectivity. Issy communicated a profound understanding of the music, with an almost crying tone at the expressive upper register of the instrument, and culminating in yearning appoggiaturas fading into silence. The final movement of the sonata was much more energetic and tonally ambiguous, enabling Issy to explore the darker sonorities of the ‘cello.
Joined by the piano for the first time, Issy concluded her performance with the triumphant first movement of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major. In this early work, the composer displays both the lyrical and virtuosic capabilities of the cello in a Baroque ritornello form. Issy’s cantabile playing was particularly effective in the ringing acoustic of All Saints’, and her dexterity in quick runs up the A-string were very impressive. This is clearly a repertoire Issy enjoys, and her playing showed great flair.
Outstanding Oakham School music staff to perform concert of Piano Trios 10 October 2016 Anne Bolt piano, Martin Cropper violin and Richard Jenkinson cello
Haydn Piano Trio in G, ‘Gypsy’, Hob.XV:25 Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, op. 67 Schubert Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat, D.929
Oakham School music staff Anne Bolt, Martin Cropper and Richard Jenkinson return to perform another professional concert in Chapel following on from their exhilarating trio debut last October. Enjoy one of Haydn’s most popular trios, with its infectious gypsy rondo finale. Contrastingly, Shostakovich’s trio reflects its composition in the midst of World War II. The trio then continue their survey of Schubert’s chamber works with his second and last piano trio, described by Schumann as “spirited…and dramatic.” It reveals his heritage as a musical son of Haydn and Mozart, and concludes what promises to be a wonderful survey of great chamber music.
Friday 14 October, Chapel, 7.45pm £10 (free for school-age children) Tickets (£10 or free for school-age children) are available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or from Walkers Bookshop (Oakham)
On Wednesday, Oakham School staff member Oliver Smith treated us to a virtuosic display of recorder playing accompanied on organ and harpsichord by James Speakman. The recorder brings such eloquent subtlety to each work and Oliver certainly did this. He opened the recital with a dramatic Canzona detta La Bernardinia by Frescobaldi. This was performed on the descant recorder, which sounds trumpet-like and produces a strong centred tone that really fills the acoustic. Oliver then treated us to a Largo from Telemann’s Fantasia No. 8 in G minor. This work was dominated by interval leaps and dark tonality which kept us gripped throughout. To finish, a wonderful work by J.S Bach, the Sonata in C Minor. This consisted of three movements all contrasting and demonstrating the versatility of the treble recorder. However, the Largo was particularly engaging and left the audience transfixed. Bravo!
Acclaimed funk jazz band to perform in Queen Elizabeth Theatre 18 July 2016
We’re delighted to welcome terrific funk jazz band Resolution 88 to Oakham for a rare professional recital in the school’s theatre. Led by former Oakham maths teacher and keyboard player, Tom O’Grady, the band was formed when Tom began working full-time as a professional musician four years ago. The band's music is based around the sound of the Fender Rhodes piano, complex changes and heavily syncopated funk beats.
Resolution 88 has sold out some of the most prestigious venues in London, including Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza Express in Soho, and they also headlined at the inaugural Cambridge Jazz Festival along with special guest Dennis Rollins on trombone. They have already released an acclaimed album, an EP and a limited edition vinyl single featuring Kaidi Tatham’s remix of their track ‘Broken Beat’. Their second full album, 'Afterglow', is due in September 2016. Be sure to join us for an evening of high-energy music-making!
Friday 16 September, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 7.45pm Tickets (£10 or free for school-age children) are available by e-mailing email@example.com or from Walkers Bookshop (Oakham).
Stunning recital from Fourth Form sopranos 27 June 2016
On Wednesday the audience at All Saints’ were treated to a stunning recital performed by two Fourth Form sopranos, Millie and Beth.
Millie performed Four Indian Love Lyrics by Amy Woodforder-Finden. Self–published in 1902, each of the songs has its own style and sense of nostalgia. The programme started with a confident performance of ‘The Temple Bells’. Millie interpreted the songs with tenderness and understanding; the long lyrical lines of ‘Kashmiri Song’ are particularly beautiful and were sung with subtlety and great control. Millie’s performance was characterised by a genuine sense of enjoyment, great communication and fondness for the four melodious songs.
Beth’s performance of Five Hebrew Love Songs by Eric Whitacre was both characterful and accomplished. The songs are adaptations of Hebrew poems and were commissioned in 2001. ‘Kalá Kallá’ is a beautiful, bright song and demonstrated the clarity and eloquence of Beth’s voice. A joyous song, it alternates between sumptuous darker tones and vibrant rhythmic energy. By contrast ‘Eyze shéleg’ is an intensely moving song which requires great sonority and purity. It is thought-provoking as it has no words, only soaring melodies which are perfectly suited to Beth’s voice. The performance of the five songs was thoroughly stylish with an engaging ensemble of voice, piano and violin with additional hand percussion performed by Beth.
This was an accomplished recital from the two girls. The two collections of songs were an inspiring example of cultural diversity in both musical styles, meaning and interpretation.
Excellent lunchtime concert from Form 2 musicians 15 June 2016
Last Wednesday we were treated to some wonderful performances by Jess on piano and Bronte (soprano). Jess opened the concert with a Prelude in F minor by J S Bach. This work is dominated by a beautiful melody that becomes more expressive as the work develops. Jess really captured the essence of the piece and demonstrated her understanding of the contrapuntal lines and overall shaping of the musical phrases. Next a melancholic Fantasia in D minor by Mozart. Jess grabbed the mood of the work brilliantly in the opening and then transformed the character of the piece when she reached the Allegretto section in D major.
We were then treated to three works for voice by Roger Quilter performed by Bronte. All three works demanded such purity of sound and control especially in the higher register and Bronte really delivered. She floated each line effortlessly and she created a wonderful atmosphere with every song, which was testament to her quality performing. An excellent concert by both award holders in Form 2 and we looking to hearing them again soon. Bravo!
On Wednesday 18 May, we were treated to some wonderful
woodwind and brass playing by two of Oakham’s young music scholars. Oboist
Rupert Fell opened the concert with the expressive Andante from
Vivaldi’s Sonata in C minor, but soon delved into a virtuosic Allegro.
This movement demands secure knowledge of scales and tests the performer’s
technique, and Rupert thrilled us with his flamboyancy. He followed this with a
lyrical Cavatine by Coste. This was well-controlled and demonstrated
Rupert’s natural flair for phrasing and his ability to exploit the different
colours the oboe can deliver.
The second half of the recital saw Freddie Buchanan charm us
with a delightful Trumpet Sonata by Hansen. The first movement, Allegro con
brio, contained lots of fanfare themes, and Freddie projected these
wonderfully, filling the church with sound. The Andante con espressione
was full of delicate phrases and Freddie captured these lyrical lines
beautifully. To finish, we heard a spritely Allegro con anima which was
a joy to hear, and once again the essence of the movement was performed
Congratulations to both Freddie and Rupert for a fine
Last week’s Informal Evening Service saw the second visit to chapel of Brightline, a worship band from the Message Trust in Manchester – a team who visit schools, clubs, churches and youth groups around the country.
Daniel and Jacob, the two lead singers and musicians entertained, enthralled and challenged the congregation on the theme of Pentecost. Stephen Owen, an artist from Aberystwyth, gave a powerful talk which spoke of how God’s Spirit which was first breathed at creation, now breathes again at Pentecost and on all who welcome his love and power this day. Daniel followed this up with an inspiring word about our unique identity before God. It was an excellent evening for everyone involved.
Impressive and resonant violin recital 13 May 2016
Grace Muris opened her recital with the glorious upward arpeggio figure of the Handel Sonata in D major. As it lands unexpectedly on E we were taken on an expansive and expressive harmonic journey to which Grace’s resonant sound and flair for the tonal context were aptly suited. She plays like a recitation of poetry and the dialogue between violin and piano that followed in the Allegro movement was like a lively conversation between Grace and her pianist Anne Bolt.
The Tchaikovsky Melodie offered a complete change of mood and the expressive and warmer, denser resonances of the violin part changed too to match this.
This was followed by the playful and robust tone of the Korngold Mummerschanz in which Grace showed herself to be fully in command of the style and the sound.
Changing her instrument with great versatility, Grace then moved to the piano to become the centre of the Strasbourg-St Denis group. This work by Roy Hargrove gave the audience in the Parish Church a further treat as trumpet and saxophone (Adam Hebditch and Angharad Conant) played overlapping melodic phrases, and as the sparkle of the hi hat (Anna Gonzalez) and the bass of Dickon Fell supported Grace’s central chordal theme: a perfect summer lunchtime jazz performance to finish the concert.
A very entertaining lunchtime recital Thursday 5 May
Yesterday, the audience at All Saints’ Church
were thrilled by a very entertaining concert. Nathaniel Taylor took
to the stage first to play two piano pieces: Sonata in E by Scarlatti and
then Chopin’s Polonaise. Both
pieces were played with great authority and he captured the style well. I
particularly liked the virtuosic interlude in the Chopin which was very
The concert was then taken over by three talented
percussionists: Tom Clough, Anna Gonzalez and George Khan who made a terrific
impression with their Buckets Ruckus
which as the title suggests was played on buckets. What they did with these
three buckets was just amazing! George and Anna then each played a Marimba
solo; George the unaccompanied Tambourin
and Anna the ever popular Black and White
Rag, before Tom joined them again for Malcom Arnold’s Concert Piece for multi percussion. This was a fitting end to
a high class and very entertaining concert. Well done to all.
Competition success for Youth Brass 2000 Thursday 5 May
Congratulations to Youth Brass 2000, of which two students –
Adam Hebditch and Lizzie Beamish – are members, who came an incredible second
out of eight European youth bands contesting in Lille on Sunday. The group
performed at the 2000 seat concert hall, Le Nouveau Siècle. This is a fantastic
achievement for the band – well done!
Professional vocal trio to perform sumptuous Baroque music in Oakham School Tuesday 26 April
Join us for an evening of sumptuous music by professional vocal ensemble, Galan. This talented group will present a programme of vocal trios, duets and solos from the Italian and English early Baroque period, performing odes to courtly love, passion and bittersweet adoration by composers including Monteverdi, Carissimi and Gibbons. An opportunity not to be missed!
Friday 6 May, Oakham School Chapel, 7.45pm. Tickets (£10) are available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or from Walkers Bookshop (Oakham).
After months of hard work and practice, Oakham’s Chamber Choir were one of only three senior school choirs in the country to reach the final of the prestigious BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition.
Broadcast to millions of viewers on BBC One on Sunday, the final saw Oakham compete against Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and St George’s College, Weybridge.
“While we didn’t bring home the trophy, our choir can certainly, in the words of one of the judges, hold our heads up high,” says Director of Music, Peter Davis. “This is one of the most fiercely competitive and prestigious school choral competitions, and I’m incredibly proud that having only ever entered it twice, we reached the semi-finals in 2012 and now, in 2016, the finals. This is a real testament to the quality of music on offer at Oakham.”
Presenter Aled Jones called all three school choirs “magnificent” and, after Oakham’s performance, he suggested the choir had “set the bar really high.”
Connie Fisher, who won the BBC One talent contest How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? gave an enthusiastic review of Oakham’s performance: “It was such a polished performance; I didn’t think you could get any better but you’ve just proved me wrong. It was dynamic; it was gloriously lazy, yet musically crisp. You were so together. And that wall of sound that you create…I really love listening to you.” She finished off her rapturous review by joking that “I’d like to walk with you on my iPod”, as the choir had sung “I want Jesus to walk with me.”
Another judge, Katherine Jenkins OBE, who is one of the most successful classical music crossover artists in the world, thought that Oakham’s “strength is their complicated harmonies.”
The third judge, Ken Burton, the internationally-renowned composer and conductor whose particular focus is Gospel music of the nature that Oakham sang, described the School’s performance as “effortless - it was easy, it was light, it was bouncy.” He later went on to say “they nailed it as an arrangement. And they nailed it chorally.”
“The students are so deserving of this national recognition and such fulsome praise from the judges. It was an outstanding achievement to sing so well in front of the camera crews, hundreds of spectators and, of course, the judges. It’s certainly an experience they should remember proudly and fondly for the rest of their lives,” continues Peter.
If you missed the semi-final show, you can view it on iPlayer. – it contains a short piece filmed at Oakham, presented by two of our Choir, Alva and Will. You can also watch the final here.
Swinging Big Band Performance in Owston Monday 25 April
Oakham’s Big Band was on terrific form for their evening
concert in St Andrew’s Church, Owston, on Sunday 24 April. The 12th Century,
Grade 1 listed church had seldom heard music like it, but a capacity audience
clearly enjoyed hearing the band perform in such intimate and historic
Steve Foster directed the band in a wide range of
repertoire, encompassing everything from classic swing arrangements to a Big
Band arrangement of Uptown Funk. As
well as demonstrating terrific strengths in all sections of the band, the
audience also enjoyed brilliant vocal solos from Jonathan Birch, Edwin Lambert,
Alva Muris and Jenny Shen, as well as instrumental features for Hannah Crowley
(alto saxophone) and Mr Foster himself on the trumpet.
The whole evening was a great community event, and Oakham’s musicians
were delighted to be supporting church funds through this concert.
We're delighted that nearly £700 was raised in support of St Andrew's. Congratulations to all those involved!
"Engaging" and "characterful" recital by Brass Ensembles Friday 22 April
The Brass Ensembles performed three contrasting and characterful pieces in
Wednesday's lunchtime recital. The concert started with a vibrant performance of Concerto
for trumpets and timpani by Altenburg. This was a fine performance with
charming imitative passages, clear communication and a dynamic rhythm at its
core. The next piece, Allegro moderato (Sonata) by Poulenc provided a
contrast in the programme and started in an upbeat style with a firm sense of
unity in playing. This led into a serene and colourful passage; the ensemble
perfectly capturing the intended mood. Struth by Chris Hazell provided
further contrast and a stylish element to the recital. 'Start Tapping' contains a sprightly theme on the trumpet which was played with character.
Punchy melodies and chromaticism added energy and it was thoroughly engaging. 'Restin’
Up' took a more reflective style and featured a rousing development,
displaying great communication and musicality. 'Trekkin’ Home' presented
memorable themes which were passed around the ensemble. This stylish and
rhythmic piece was a great close to the concert. Well done!
Youth Brass 2000 announced as winners of National Youth Brass Band competition Thursday 21 April
Congratulations to Form 2 music award holder Lizzie Beamish and to Form 7 music scholar Adam Hebditch who, as members of Youth Brass 2000, are National Youth Brass Band winners (pictured here with the cup and pennant). Youth Brass 2000 are the first youth band to gain a hat trick of wins in this competition. In addition, they now hold all four major UK youth band titles, having won all of these competitions this year. This is a great achievement for Lizzie and Adam, who played at each of competitions.
Oakham student selected as NCC Chorister of the Course Wednesday 20 April
We are delighted that Bethany Davis
(Form 2 Music Award Holder) was chosen as Chorister of the Course for the
National Children’s Choir Easter residential course. This year the choir
visited Shrewsbury School, with 254 choir members spread through 5 choirs and
52 staff, both music and pastoral. Bethany is in the Blue Choir and worked
on varied repertoire, from Neaum’s arrangement of My Love is an Arbutus to Alexander’s
Ragtime Band, and all the choirs started work on the massed choir piece for
the summer concert; Michael Higgins’ arrangement of Barber’s Agnus Dei. Bethany enjoyed staying
in one of the newer houses, Mary Sidney, and took part in various recreation
activities including the jungle themed party night!
The Chorister of the Course award is given to choir members
who have been outstanding in every aspect of an NCC course; they are good
musicians who work well in rehearsals and singing lessons, and also contribute
to the general life of the choir outside the rehearsal room. All 52
members of staff submit their nominations and we are very proud of Bethany and
Student's work shortlisted in Royal Opera House Fanfare competition Monday 18 April
Congratulations to Form 3 music
scholar Holly Frostwick whose entry to the Royal Opera House’s annual Fanfare competition
reached the final shortlisting stage of the competition. Fanfare is a creative
composition opportunity for individuals aged between 11 and 18. Holly’s entry
was one of only 28 of 129 submitted fanfares to be shortlisted for final
judging by world-renowned conductor and music director of the Royal Opera
House, Sir Antonio Pappano. Although not ultimately selected as a winning
entry, this is a tremendous achievement – well done!
TV crew film at Oakham School for BBC Songs of Praise 7 April 2016
Oakham was thrilled to welcome a BBC television crew to Oakham to take footage of the School prior to this Sunday’s Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition.
They visited earlier in the term to see the choir in action on their home turf as well as giving the students an opportunity to show off their school.
Alva and Will, both members of the Chapel Choir and the Seventh Form, took on the responsibility of presenters. They were tasked with introducing the choir singing in the Chapel, as well as showcasing a couple of key aspects of life at Oakham.
After filming the choir rehearsing, Alva and Will showed the crew around the rest of School, starting with the Library, a great space to talk with some of the Duke of Edinburgh students at Oakham. The students were filmed poring over maps, planning their next exhibition route. If the weather had been a little kinder this would have taken place outside, but it was, in true D of E style blowing a gale outside – so much so the wind could even be heard in the comfort of the library! Many of the members of the choir have either already, or are currently, undertaking one of the D of E awards and were filmed chatting about what they have learnt and the benefit the scheme brings.
Given the School’s great strength and reputation for Art, as well as the fact that many of the Chapel Choir are talented artists, Will and Alva then took the film crew over to the Art department. They only managed to film in one of the many art rooms, due to time, but it was certainly a great opportunity for those artists interviewed to be able to discuss their work.
Whilst we don’t know just how much of this footage will be shown on Sunday night’s semi-final broadcast (BBC One at 4.15pm), we are all certainly looking forward to watching!
You can follow our live updates during the show on Twitter @OakhamSch.
Oakham School on BBC Songs of Praise on Sunday 4 April 2016
Oakham School is on BBC Songs of Praise this Sunday!
Oakham School’s talented Chamber Choir is through to the semi-final of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition, which broadcasts on BBC One on Sunday 10 April at 4.15pm.
“We are all delighted that Oakham is one of just six senior choirs to have been selected from across the UK to take part in this prestigious and well-loved competition,” says Director of Music, Peter Davis.
The semi-final, held at Sheffield City Hall and presented by Aled Jones, sees the choir performing for celebrity judges Katherine Jenkins, Ken Burton and Connie Fisher. Three schools will be selected to sing again in the final, which will be aired on Sunday 24 April.
Peter continues, “The choir have spent the last term practising two pieces for the competition - Roderick Williams’ wonderful arrangement of the spiritual “I want Jesus to walk with me”, and an a cappella arrangement of “Amazing Grace”.
This isn’t the first time the quality of Oakham’s Chamber Choir has been recognised in this competition – they reached the semi-final of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year the last time that they entered in 2012. Already this year, the Choir was one of seven schools chosen to participate in the Barnardo’s National Choral Competition, another competition renowned for its extremely high standards. Although they did not win, they were commended for their “Great attention to detail and very secure intonation” and “Excellent energy”. The Chairman of the Judges also commented that, “The Chamber Choir really does have the ability to really ‘wow’ the judges in the Songs of Praise competition - in fact to ‘wow’ anyone.”
The Chamber Choir were thrilled to have been filmed at Oakham earlier on in the year, as part of the competition. Two members of the Choir, Alva and Will, showed the BBC filming crew around the School. As well as filming in the School Chapel, they also visited the Art department, the Library and Science department.
“Everyone at Oakham is really looking forward to watching the programme,” concludes Peter “As well as following our live updates on Twitter [@OakhamSch].”
Chapel Choir performs at Sheldonian Theatre Sunday 20 March
On Sunday 20 March, the Chapel Choir,
accompanied by professional orchestra, gave a concert at the Sheldonian Theatre
in Oxford. The Choir performed music by Bach and Haydn, opening with Haydn’s
famous Insanae et vanae curae. Form 7
music scholar Adam Hebditch gave a stunning rendition of Haydn’s Trumpet
Concerto. The Choir closed the second half with one of Bach’s Easter cantatas, Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubiliert,
with soloists drawn from the choir. During the second half, the Choir and
orchestra gave a dramatic and polished performance of Haydn’s popular Nelson
Mass. Form 7 soloists Alva Muris, Edwin Lambert and Alex Bower-Brown and Old
Oakhamian Miranda Heldt must be commended for their stylish performances. We
are delighted that a retiring collection of £695.86 was raised on behalf of OCCTOPUS,
the Oxford Colon Cancer Trust.
Polished performances at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre 23 March 2016
Oakham School’s Chapel Choir gave a fantastic gala concert in the impressive setting of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.
The choir performed music by Bach and Haydn, opening with Haydn’s famous Insanae et vanae curae. Form 7 music scholar Adam gave a stunning rendition of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. The choir closed the second half with one of Bach’s Easter cantatas, Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubiliert, with soloists drawn from the choir.
During the second half, the choir and the professional orchestra gave a dramatic and polished performance of Haydn’s popular Nelson Mass. Old Oakhamian soprano Miranda Heldt was thrilled to be with her old choir again, giving a beautifully expressive solo performance.
Miranda was joined by Form 7 soloists Alva, Edwin and Alex, who must be commended for their excellent and confident performances. The three singers are also part of Oakham School’s Chamber Choir, who were selected for the semi-final of the Songs of Praise School choir of the Year 2016 competition, which will be aired on Sunday 10 April.
All the performers and music staff are to be congratulated on an extraordinary evening of music, which also raised £695.86 in a retiring collection on behalf of OCCTOPUS, the Oxford Colon Cancer Trust.
Music Scholar to play in Regional Final of Rotary Competition Monday 21 March
Congratulations to Form 2 Music Scholar Jessica Carr who won the most recent stage of the Rotary Competition and has also been selected for the Regional Final, which will take place in April. The adjudicator described Jessica's performance of the first movement of a Bach sonata as displaying 'admirable authenticity and poise' and congratulated Jessica on her mature and controlled performance of Allegro Malincolico by Poulenc. Well done Jessica!
A “captivating performance” at Lunchtime
concert Wednesday 2 March
Julia’s performance of Haydn’s Allegro moderato from his Concerto in G
was performed with style and ease. Brisk and light in character, technical
challenges were mastered and there was a lovely fluency throughout. Julia
clearly enjoyed her performance of this lively piece and interpreted it with
interest and responsiveness.
Tchaikovsky’s Scherzo, is the second of
his Three Pieces. Julia demonstrated
total commitment to her performance of this demanding piece. Commendable control
of the bow, fingering techniques and a charismatic spiccato led to another captivating performance. A lyrical and
expressive legato passage provided fitting contrast.
Julia’s performance of Copland’s
‘Hoe-Down’ was engaging and vivid. She achieved her intention to express joy
and freedom in the music. This was a dynamic and controlled performance with
great communication with the accompanist.
Thanks to Anne Bolt for her wonderful
An entertaining House Singing Competition 7 March 2016
The annual Boarding House Singing Competition took place on the evening of Sunday 6 March in Chapel. Houses were given a long list of songs from which to choose, and their choices ranged from older classics such as ‘Help!’ by the Beatles and ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers to more modern songs by Adele, Bastille, Ella Henderson and The Script. No staff were permitted to assist with preparations since the song choices were released at the start of the week, and so all preparations were left in the hands of the students.
All the houses are to be congratulated on putting so much time and effort into their preparations over the last week, and the pupils who directed, arranged and sang solos deserve particular praise. At the end of the evening, the best boys’ house was judged to be School House, who gave a very classy and simple performance of Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ which focused on the quality of their singing. The best girls’ house and overall winner was Stevens, whose performance of Jessie J’s ‘Flashlight’ was the standout performance of the night, featuring terrific solo singing, great harmonies and engagement from the entire house.
Renowned composer Will Todd visits Oakham 11 January 2016
Oakham’s 120-voice Chapel Choir was privileged to welcome the composer and jazz pianist Will Todd as its guest at the annual Choir Dinner at the weekend. Will recently composed a setting of “God so loved the world” for Oakham which received its world première at the Peterborough Cathedral carol service, and it was wonderful for the choir to meet the man behind the music.
Will was moved to hear the choir sing his piece to him at the dinner, and then spoke engagingly in his after-dinner speech, having warmed up his audience with a few jazz-based rhythmic exercises. His eclectic work schedule embraces time at home composing (about which he spoke strongly of the need to “get on” with creative work of this nature) as well as working with countless choirs across the UK and internationally. He is convinced of the value of choral music to bring together people of all ages (from 3 to 93), and finds this endlessly inspiring in his work. He spoke intriguingly about his commitment to making fruit salad for his family every day, finally bringing this back to the value of working at something which is good for you, even when it is against the odds. Oakham pupils are hugely fortunate to have such vibrant choral experiences, and he finished with a challenge to them all to share its value and opportunities with others beyond Oakham.
The Choir Dinner is the Headmaster’s chance to thank the pupils for all their hard work in leading choral music in the school, and they reciprocated with some after-dinner entertainment. The Chamber Choir performed Roderick Williams’ arrangement of the spiritual “I want Jesus to walk with me”, and then the Form 7 pupils ended the evening with their own re-write of the hymn “Shine Jesus Shine” dedicated to the Director of Music!
Carol services at Peterborough Cathedral 16 December 2015
The School held its triennial Peterborough Cathedral carol services in the last week of term before the Christmas break, with the Lower School service on Thursday and the Middle/Upper School service on Friday.
The majesty of the cathedral always creates a special atmosphere, and this year was no exception. The lessons were read with poise and confidence by Heads of Houses, the Head Boy and Girl, the Master of Jerwoods and the Headmaster respectively. These were interlaced with complementary carols from congregation and choir and punctuated by a brief address telling the timeless story of God’s salvation for humankind.
Mr Tom Constable, Chaplaincy Fellow, spoke in the Thursday address of the mystery of John chapter 1, urging everyone to wrestle with it even if it is not easy to understand. On the Friday, the School Chaplain Rev Alex Aldous spoke on the concept of time’ – whilst on the surface there may seem to be apparent awkwardness in the timing of certain aspects of the Christmas story and our own preparedness for the season, nevertheless God breaks through into history and becomes flesh at his appointed hour, and there is then the call for us to make time for him in all our busyness.
In Thursday’s service, the Jerwoods Choir contributed a lovely selection of choral carols, opening with the Director of Music’s ethereal arrangement of the plainsong Creator of the starry height, and finishing with Bob Chilcott’s beautiful setting of Midwinter, featuring the flute playing of Jessica Carr. On Friday, the Chapel Choir bookended the service with two Oakham School commissions – one from Paul Mealor (Matin Responsory, first heard in 2012), and a moving new work by Will Todd heard after the prayers (God so loved the world). As well as the excellent choral singing, there were also outstanding solos from Alex Bower-Brown, Edwin, Jack, Hannah, Kitty and Morgan.
Music scholar re-selected for the National Children’s Orchestra Thursday 10 December
Congratulations to Form 2 flautist and music scholar Jessica Carr, who has just been re-selected for the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain. Jessica will play in the under-13s orchestra next year. The NCO is Britain's premier symphony orchestra for children and it offers life-changing training and experience to budding instrumentalists.
Members of the NCO's under-13s orchestra have two nine-day residential courses, one at Easter and one in summer, both of which end with a public concert. Previous venues have included Leeds Town Hall, the Town Hall in Birmingham and The Anvil in Basingstoke. There is also a non-residential weekend during winter which culminates in a concert, usually in the Royal Festival Hall.
Two national choral successes - in one week! 9 December 2015
This week Oakham’s musicians have received news that their talents have been recognised in two of the biggest national youth choral competitions. Hot on the heels of learning they have reached the semi-finals of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year 2016 competition, the Chamber Choir were then told they have reached the finals of the Barnardo's National Choral Competition!
“To be selected for both these national competitions is a testimony to the outstanding quality of music at Oakham,” says Director of Music, Peter Davis. “It is a huge accolade to be recognised as one of the best six senior school choirs in the country in both of these prestigious competitions.”
The BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition will take place in Sheffield City Hall on Sunday 28 February. If the school is successful in the semi-finals, they and two other schools will go forward to the finals, which is also being filmed on the same day. The competition will then be broadcast on BBC One later on in the year. The choir will be performing the two pieces that formed part of their recorded entry – Roderick Williams’ wonderful arrangement of the spiritual “I want Jesus to walk with me”, and an a cappella arrangement of “Amazing Grace”.
The final for the Barnardo's National Choral Competition will take place in the Royal Festival Hall in London on Tuesday 9 February 2016. The choir will perform two pieces to the judges – again, the Roderick Williams’ arrangement of “I want Jesus to walk with me”, and an a cappella arrangement of “When you wish upon a star”. The choir will also perform in an evening concert, in which they will perform one of these pieces again as well as two massed choir items with the other five senior choirs and the 18 junior choirs taking part in the competition.
“It is certainly going to be a momentous few months for our choir,” continues Peter. “Very few students can say they’ve been a part of both of these competitions. As well as the competitions themselves, the BBC is also be visiting the school to film the choir rehearsing and to interview members of the choir. If this wasn’t enough, the Chamber Choir will also be performing in a concert at the renowned Brandenburg Choral Festival in London, in January, returning by invitation as one of very few school choirs at the event.”
This isn’t the first time the quality of Oakham’s Chamber Choir has been recognised nationally – they reached the Semi-Finals of the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition the last time that they entered in 2012. “The students are delighted that their hard work, as well as their talents, have been acknowledged on the national stage – they are certainly looking forward to the term ahead!”
Music scholar wins Nottingham Young Singer of the Year 12 October 2015
Seventh Former Edwin Lambert won the much-coveted title of Nottingham Young Singer of the Year over the weekend. Edwin will now go through to the final of the competition, where he will compete to become Nottingham Young Musician of the Year.
Ten Oakhamian musicians in total travelled to Nottingham to compete in the biennial Nottingham Young Musician of the Year competition. Edwin and oboist Rupert Fell performed particularly well in the first round of the competition as they competed against some of the best musicians in the East Midlands. Rupert won the Woodwind Group 1 class for ages 11-12, and Edwin won the Singing Group 3 class for ages 16-18.
Both boys then went forward to compete in the competition semi-finals, in which the competition’s fifteen class winners performed again. Rupert performed admirably in the woodwind competition, acquitting himself very well alongside a talented saxophonist and clarinettist who were much older. Edwin Lambert had the longest wait as he performed last of all, but his patience was rewarded when he was chosen as the best singer of the day, winning a trophy and the title of Nottingham Young Singer of the Year. He will now compete in the competition’s final on Sunday 15 November in the University of Nottingham Djanogly Recital Hall.
The eight other musicians also performed very well: pianists Jessica Carr, singers Bethany Davis and Holly Frostwick, string players Grace Muris, Jessica Tomey and Issy Martin, and trumpeters Freddie Buchanan and Adam Hebditch. They were regularly singled out for particular praise by the adjudicators, who variously applauded their excellent tone, technical control, and the drama and maturity of their performances.