The first concert of a New Year is always
an exciting one, but the fact that four generations of musicians came together
in Oundle School’s Chapel on Thursday 16 January, to perform six diverse works,
made this year’s concert all the more memorable.
Violinist and Music Scholar, Serena Shah (17) commented, “With the help of our teachers (members of the first generation of
music making) our friends from the Royal College of Music String Band (members
of the second generation) and the string players of Oundle (ranging from First
Form (Year 7) to Sixth Form (Year 13) (making up the third generation), the
concert opened with Handel’s Larghetto from Concerto Grosso No. 12.”
Following a vibrant and luscious rendition of the final two movements of the Serenade for Strings Op. 48 by
Tchaikovsky, the stage was taken by the Year 2 children of Laxton Junior School
(the youngest generation of musicians!). They performed four short pieces in
which they demonstrated their talent and enthusiasm for playing their chosen
string instrument, opening with Trolls,
Orcs and Goblins which took the audience on a journey to Alton Towers, and
finishing in New York with the Manhattan
Serena added, “For those children, it must have been a nerve wracking and an
adrenaline filled experience, but for all of the rest of us, including our
parents in the audience, it reminded us how years ago, we started off in
exactly the same position on the excellent strings’ programme at LJS. This
moment was one of the highlights of the whole evening as it showed every
individual musician how far he or she has come with their instrument, how much
they have achieved as a musician and a performer, and most importantly how much
they enjoy and love music.”
The final piece of the first half of the concert was Elgar’s Sospiri, which not only showed off
Oundle’s talented string players, but also the elegant playing of one of
Oundle’s harpists and one of its organists. This was conducted by Mark
Messenger, Head of Strings at RCM, and the difficulty and challenges of the
piece’s flexible tempo was concealed by his clear and effective leadership.
After a short interval where the youngest generation of performers departed for
a good night’s sleep, the RCM String Band dazzled the audience with, in Mark
Messenger’s words, ‘two miserable pieces’.
The first was a beautiful performance of Cantus
in Memoriam Benjamin Britten by
Arvo Pärt in which Oundle’s Director of Music, Quentin Thomas, played the tolls
of the bell’s part, making this specific performance unique and distinct as the
notes resonated through the Chapel. It was easy to overlook that these Royal
College Musicians were only eighteen and nineteen years old.
Quentin commented, “The final piece of the concert was Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony,
introduced and put into its grim historical context superbly by Mark Messenger.
The contrast of the disturbingly powerful with the uncomfortable peace in this
work served as an excellent finale to a very memorable and fine concert; one
that all four generations of musicians will remember for many years to come.”
Publicity and Press Relations Officer
on the Unique Partnership between Oundle School
the Royal College of Music
January 2012, Oundle School entered into a unique partnership arrangement with
the Royal College of Music, whereby pupils from the School gain the experience
of working with professors and students from the College, both in Oundle and
prime movers behind this arrangement were Mark Messenger, Head of Strings at
the Royal College of Music, and Angus Gibbon, Head of Strings at Oundle School.
memorandum of understanding between the two institutions was signed on Friday
13 January by Headmaster Charles Bush and Stephen Johns, Artistic
Director of the Royal College of Music.
historic signing was followed by a concert with all three areas of the
educational spectrum: primary, secondary and tertiary.
from Oundle are invited to various masterclasses and workshops at RCM and
highlights include regular visits from Professors and Heads of Departments of the
RCM in the form of masterclasses and judging of the School’s annual Hepburn
Music Competition. Oundle School Orchestras and Ensembles give concerts in the
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, Royal College of Music, London. Other events
have included pupils attending rehearsals for Bruckner 8 taken by Bernard
Haitink and the Chamber Orchestra’s performances of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto
and Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto with Francesca Dego, Italian violinist and ex
RCM student as part of the School’s General Studies Programme.
School works closely with the Oundle International Festival, Oundle for
Organists and distinguished musicians such as Jeremy Menuhin, Natalie Clein,
Michael Boccman and Craig Ogden. Pupils have taken part in joint projects with
the English String Orchestra, the Aurora Orchestra and the Orchestra of the
music programme at Oundle School is rich and varied, offering a stimulating
musical environment to all musicians, whether in a popular or more traditional
style. There is a range of ensembles to suit all abilities and interests. Concert
venues have included Symphony Hall, Birmingham, West Road, Cambridge and
Scholarships are awarded at 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry, in recognition of proven
talent and solely on merit. All scholarships are underpinned by bursary
assistance if the financial circumstances of the individual family necessitate
it. The Director of Music is always pleased to meet with prospective music
scholars. Please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on Oundle School
School is situated in the quintessentially English Market town from which it
takes its name. The School's buildings, dating from the seventeenth to the
twenty-first century, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large
extent, its campus.
School's history goes back to 1556 when Sir William Laxton, Master of the
Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded
the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876,
the Grocers' Company decided to divide the School into two parts: Laxton
Grammar School, mainly for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School,
mainly for pupils from further afield. However, to mark the new millennium, the
Governing Body decided to reunite the two schools under the common name of
Oundle School, with Laxton as a House for day-pupils.
School is now able to offer a range of educational possibilities to meet
contemporary needs: co-educational day or boarding education, with Laxton
Junior as a 4-11 day school, and Oundle School as a boarding and day school,
with entry at 11, 13 or into the Sixth Form.