Our distinguished Director of Music, Dr Collisson, rounds up some of the highlights of a busy term.
“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” – Confucius.
Whilst I agree with the great philosopher, it is important not only to recognise the potential for music to bring pleasure, but also to acknowledge its power beyond sheer entertainment. This term has seen our hugely talented musicians involved in outreach, celebration, remembrance, worship, and, of course, spectacular entertainment too.
Having welcomed our new Music Scholars at the start of term (Jennifer, Olivia, Elisa and Talia in Year 7; Tara, Iris, Misha and Rebecca in Year 10; and Beatrice in the Lower Sixth), the department embarked on an exceptional term of music. In early October, our Junior School celebrated Harvest with a wonderful morning of readings and music. At the end of that week, we welcomed pupils from Eastbury Community School in Barking, to rehearse together for a collaborative concert – a lovely occasion for both schools, with the opportunity to make new friendships.
After half term, it was full steam ahead, beginning with Music Scholarship auditions for the current Year 6 and Year 11 pupils. The second week contained no fewer than four concerts and a performance in the Remembrance assembly, with stunning performances from the Senior Chamber Choir and from Alice, playing The Last Post. Chorale Choir, the Lower School Chamber Choir, and a number of Year 11 readers then performed at Songs of Empowerment at the Broadway Theatre in Barking, alongside pupils from Eastbury Community School. Both schools brought their own flavour to the event which was a huge success, performing in front of the Mayor of Barking & Dagenham, where the suffrage march on Parliament had begun 100 years before. Our lunchtime concert that day lifted the spirits at the end of a long and busy week, but there was still more to come, as our Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, and Chamber Orchestra prepared for a Remembrance Sunday Performance of words and music to reflect on the Centenary of Armistice Day.
Towards the end of November, we were gearing up for the festive season. Our Choirs and Orchestras concert featured Rebecca, as one of our Upper Sixth Music Scholars, in a memorable performance of Telemann’s Suite in A minor accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra. At the Friends of South Hampstead (FOSH) biennial festive fair, our newly-appointed Lower Sixth Music Scholar, Beatrice, stepped-up to entertain fair-goers with a range of songs – originals of her own and some golden oldies. The following week, it was the turn of the Wind, Brass, and Percussion to continue the celebrations and get us into the festive spirit as we hurtled towards the end of term.
ABRSM exams brought their own challenges to all concerned later that week but girls seemed to take it all in their stride, as usual! The Carol Service began the final full week, bringing a certain serenity to the closing days of the term. More exams (Trinity this time) ensued, but further excitement was to be had in the form of the Junior School Winter Concert – a fun-packed evening full of seasonal cheer, superbly led by Mr Christensen. The last two days of term saw the hotly-contested annual House Music Competition, adjudicated by Mr Christopher Dawe, Director of Music at UCS – a closely-fought contest, with Walker stealing a win. Some lovely performances by Close Harmony and the Ukulele Orchestra in final assembly, filling us with yuletide warmth, rounded off a lengthy but exciting term. I began by quoting Confucius. I shall end with another, equally powerful, heart-warming quotation, with warm wishes for a happy and peaceful holiday.
“Ah, music… a magic beyond all that we do here!” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.