Musical Excellence at School’s annual Hepburn Competition
5th March 2014


The annual Oundle School Hepburn Music Competition took place over two weekends in February, judged by a panel of distinguished adjudicators, including partners from the Royal College of Music. The Hepburn Competition is one of the biggest musical events of the School year, and is effectively a complete music festival.

Nearly 200 performances in a wide range of classes were heard in five different venues over the two weekends. All the adjudicators were impressed by the standard and professionalism of the performers.

The final Hepburn Recital on Sunday evening was a thrilling climax, featuring outstanding performances on double bass, piano, clarinet, classical guitar, euphonium, marimba, cello, violin and viola, as well as vocalists.

While the adjudicator was making his decision, last year’s winner, pianist Josef Laming (18), was joined by four string players for a performance of Piano Quintet in E Flat Minor 1st Movement by Hummel.

This year’s winner of the Hepburn Cup was Serena Shah (17) on piano, for her brilliant execution and interpretation of Cat and Mouse by Copland. Earlier in the day, Serena had also won The Peacock Award for Organ and the Lumley Holmes Trophy for Piano (Diploma). As runner-up, Russell Davies (17) was awarded the Tatum Cup for his riveting performance on electric guitar of Satch Boogie by Satriani.

The adjudicator for the recital was Simon Williamson, Director of Music at Wellington College. 

Director of Music, Quentin Thomas said, “The Hepburn competition was started by the then Second Master, Ian Hepburn in the early 1950s to improve the standard of music making in the School, and has taken many forms over the years. It is generally felt that that the standard of music making has never been as strong at Oundle School as it is now.”


Headmaster Charles Bush added, “This Competition was a wonderful showcase of talented individuals who demonstrated their great dedication to the practice of their musical instruments by their outstanding performances on the day.  Congratulations are due to all competitors for having the skill and courage to take part!”

Oundle School’s Music Department is a vibrant place with around 900 music lessons being taught each week, over 30 ensembles, bands and orchestras rehearsing each week, well over 150 performances a year, with regular tours, musicals and recordings. Recent events include performing Mahler 8 at the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Bernard Haitink, and alongside the New London Orchestra at St John Smith’s Square. Our musicians have recently been working with Nicholas Daniel, Simon Channing, the SKAMPA Quartet, Lewis Kaplan, Francesca Dego and Francesca Leonardi with the Chamber Orchestra performing Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Piano and Violin. There are many forthcoming concerts and performances.


Oundle School’s partnership with The Royal College of Music was launched in January 2012 with the aim of enabling talented musicians from Oundle to work with RCM professors and students for the mutual benefit of both institutions. Professors from RCM give masterclasses and judge the School’s annual Hepburn Music.


Generous Music Scholarships are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+. For further details contact the Director of Music, Quentin Thomas on 01832 277132 or email


Press contact:


Liz Dillarstone

Publicity and Press Relations Officer

Oundle School

01832 277267

07810 788458 


Background Information on Oundle School


Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.


The School’s history dates 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 Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. Phase two of the SciTec vision is now underway, with enhanced Design Technology facilities and a new purpose-built Mathematics Department planned to link the STEM subjects both physically and philosophically. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion in 2015. 

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