Huge congratulations to Form 4 music scholar, Eddie, who has achieved a distinction in his ATCL drum kit diploma.
Oakham’s singers have been hard at work in recent weeks, recording a range of music for a specially-filmed sequence of Carols & Readings for Christmas 2020.
Our Winter Term Music at Lunchtime series was brought to a close this week with a beautiful piano recital by Samantha, a Form 5 music exhibitioner
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.
Whilst our original billing went into self-isolation, we were delighted to welcome performances from four pupils, due to undergo ABRSM music examinations in a week’s time...
We were delighted to host our inaugural Oakham School Carol Composition Competition for Prep Schools this November...
For this week's lunchtime concert, we were treated to a sensational singing recital by Form 3, Evie. Evie performed a complex programme of music by Ivor Gurney and Roger Quilter...
All were in for a real treat for this week's lunchtime recital, as an exciting selection of brass pieces were performed...
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.
The Chapel was filled to capacity for a well-selected programme comprising Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy for the piano by Jan...
For the final of our lunchtime recitals before the half term holiday, we were lucky to have Ms Anne Bolt, Oakham School’s Head of Piano...
The chapel this week was filled with the sounds of Beethoven and Chopin as Bethany presented a challenging and impressive selection on the piano on Wednesday.
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.
This week’s Lunchtime Concert featured Lucy, a Form 6 music scholar, playing two Romances for violin, by Svendsen and Dvořák, accompanied by Anne Bolt on piano.
The third live lunchtime recital of the new academic year was given by 17 year old music scholar, Jessica, performing flute repertoire by Reinecke, Debussy & Fauré.
The second live lunchtime recital of the new academic year was given by 14 year old music scholar, Eddie, performing a range of drum kit repertoire for his ATCL diploma.
It was wonderful to experience the return of live music-making on the first Wednesday of the new school year...
Music has always been at the centre of life at Oakham. During this last term, music has continued to shine brightly during the difficult and dark days of COVID-19.
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.
A new composition by Old Oakhamian, Morgan (18), will be sending a message of hope to BBC Radio 3 audiences as part of the BBC’s ‘Culture in Quarantine’ arts festival.
Oakham School’s popular weekly Wednesday lunchtime concerts, which normally take place in the town’s All Saints’ Church, are now available to view online.
Oakham’s Director of Music has been bestowed the honour of a High Sheriff Award for his work in bringing the counties’ children together in the massed Pied Piper! concert held last year.
Our Music at Lunchtime series concluded for the Spring term with a fantastic recital of British and German songs by Form 7 tenor, William.
On Wednesday 11 March, we were treated to a sensational concert of Lenten choral music by our Chamber Choir.
Our termly concert of band music was a roaring success once again with fantastic performances by the Wind Band, Polyphonix, Concert Band & Big Band...
Our weekly Wednesday lunchtime recital series continued with a guitar recital...
The annual Boarding House Singing Competition took place in Chapel on the evening of Sunday 1 March...
Oakham School’s twelfth annual Piano Duet Competition took place on the afternoon and evening of Thursday 27 February, and was once again a feast of collaborative piano playing...
This Wednesday's Music at Lunchtime concert brought us a fantastic recital by Emily...
This busy half term was rounded off with a spectacular Valentine's Day Showcase from our Lower School musicians...
This week's Wednesday lunchtime concert showcased final year pianist, Becky.
The first major Chapel concert of the Spring Term, Orchestral ABC, showcased works by Albinoni, Britten, Beethoven and Copland in a performance by the School’s Chamber and Symphony Orchestras.
Oakham School held a unique event this Wednesday in All Saints' Church; the only organ and drum kit recital happening today in the UK!
Our annual celebration of solo singing took place this term on Sunday 2 February...
Oakham School’s acclaimed Chamber Choir made their annual visit to London on Thursday 30 January to perform by invitation in the Brandenburg Choral Festival...
This Wednesday, we were treated to a recital of Chamber Music for piano and strings.
The second annual Lower School Interhouse Singing Competition took place on the afternoon of Friday 24 January in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre...
The halfway point of each week at Oakham School is always marked with a recital in the local parish church, All Saints'...
Our second instalment of the Spring term's Music at Lunchtime series welcomed the multi-talented Jessica, who performed both on the flute and piano.
Our Spring Term of Music at Lunchtime recitals launched with our fantastic Graduate Musician, Mr Arkwright, performing a terrific trombone recital.
Congratulations to Form 7 music scholar, Emilia, who has been awarded a scholarship to study the oboe at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama...
Our Winter Term Music at Lunchtime concert series was brought to a close with a mesmerizing piano recital by Form 6 Music Scholar, Rupert.
The final Friday night concert of the term presented an opportunity for Lower School musicians to show the fruits of their labours...
November brought another array of great Music at Lunchtime concerts.
Well done to Arthur, Thomas and Joshua for winning the book-themed composition competition launched in collaboration with the Music Department.
The Autumn Concert got under way with a fiercely intense performance of Ravel’s Bolero.
Every Wednesday, our pupils perform fanstatic concerts at All Saints' Church. We take a moment to throwback to our October lunchtime recitals.
Oakham’s busy concert schedule continued on Friday night in the Chapel with several of our leading ensembles...
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.
Today the School Chapel was alive with the sound of Rutland’s primary school pupils practising for their showcase Pied Piper! concert in a week’s time.
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!
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.
As we take a well-earned break after a bustling Spring term, we reflect back on the last month of spectacular Music at Lunchtime concerts, put on by our talented students.
The School's annual concert always promises to be a treat for the ears, but this year's concert was a truly varied spectualar, setting new high standards for performance at Oakham School.
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.
This Wednesday lunchtime, we were treated to a spectacular performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1 in D major.
It was wonderful to welcome back a number of younger OOs from the classes of 2012 to 2017 on Saturday 19 January to give a charity concert in aid of the National Foundation for Youth Music.
Form 6 music scholar, William, introduced the first pupil lunchtime recital of 2019 perfectly, with a mesmerizing performance of German Lieder.
Oakham’s piano department was thrilled to receive an invitation to take part in the Steinway Artist Masterclass with concert pianist, Charles Owen, held at the prestigious venue of Steinway Hall.
Holly performed a varied and beautifully executed programme, featuring music by Scarlatti, Chopin and contemporary composer Gubaidulina.
Multi-instrumentalists from Form 4,5 & 6 wow audience with Dvorak Sonatina in G.
This Wednesday we welcomed Grace and Freddie to continue our Music at Lunchtime recitals, following a restful half term.
Beth and Luke treat us to the first duet of the year.
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.
On Wednesday 3 October, Emilia performed a beautifully curated oboe recital, with music from Britten, Grovlez and Mozart.
The second of our Lunchtime series saw newly appointed Oakham organist, Harry Jacques, give a blindingly impressive organ recital.
Our very own Director of Music, Peter Davis, launched the Music at Lunchtime series 2018 with a lively and energetic performance of Chopin and Schumann
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.
This Wednesday’s lunchtime concert in All Saints’ church was a stunning recital of French mélodie and English song performed by Beth.
Lily delivered a spellbinding performance of a song cycle by Aaron Copland in this week's lunchtime recital.
This week's lunchtime concert comprised a selection of performances by Oakham string players.
With another glorious day in Oakham and a piano programme of the famous “Three B’s”, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, this week's lunchtime recital was set to be a cracker!
Congratulations to Form 5’s Emilia who has recently received the news that she has been accepted into Opera North’s Orchestra Academy as co-principle oboe.
This term’s ‘Friday Night Classics’ was a superb concert, filled with an array of ensembles that showcased the high musical standard that the students of Oakham School work hard to achieve.
We are delighted for Form 4’s Lizzie who has achieved yet another win as a part of Youth Brass 2000.
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.
Wednesday’s lunchtime recital by Form 6 Vienna featured two virtuoso showpieces from the Romantic piano repertoire.
This week’s recital, given by Form 7’s Tom, was on a sunny but chilly Wednesday in All Saints’ Church and concluded the lunchtime recitals for this busy half of term.
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.
In the second lunchtime recital of the Spring term, talented Form 4 music scholar Alina performed a programme of vibrant ‘cello music by two Italian composers from contrasting musical eras.
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.
This week’s lunchtime concert was a recital of piano music from Bach, Brahms and Haydn, beautifully performed by Form 7 music exhibitioner Millie.
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.
This Wednesday's lunchtime concert was a celebration of the evocative chamber music of Shostakovitch.
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.
Director of Music, Peter Davis, took to the keys on Wednesday to begin the new season of lunchtime recitals with a piano transcription of ballet music by Aaron Copland.
Members of Oakham's Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and Chapel Choir are currently on a music tour of northern Italy, performing in some of this beautiful country's finest cathedrals.
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.
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)
22 September 2016
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!
Young musicians excel in recital
23 May 2016
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 brilliantly.
Congratulations to both Freddie and Rupert for a fine recital.
Brightline worship band visit Oakham
23 May 2016
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 dramatic.
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!
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).
Songs of Praise Final
25 April 2016
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 surroundings.
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!
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 her achievement.
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.
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.
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
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 accompaniment.
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!
Will’s newly written piece for Oakham will receive its London première given by the Chamber Choir on Friday 22 January when they visit London’s prestigious Brandenburg Choral Festival. This concert is part of the Chamber Choir’s build-up to their two competition finals in February – the Barnardo’s National Choral Competition and the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year semi-final.
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.
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.