Outstanding Musicianship at Oundle
15th February 2016

This year’s Hepburn Music Competition at Oundle School saw no less than 334 musicians participate in performances that spanned two weekends, culminating in the Grand Final which saw fifteen soloists compete for the Hepburn trophy.

Oundle buzzed with the sound of practice, as pupils made use of every nook and cranny in the department and beyond, in the boarding houses.

Director of Music, Quentin Thomas commented, “Of note this year was the camaraderie among the Lower Sixth pupils who could be heard supporting one another, performing to each other and offering constructive feedback, in spite of competing against one another. The standard in all classes was genuinely commendable and offered testimony to the superb teaching that goes on in the department on a daily basis, including the accompanists who worked with the musicians before and during the competition.”

The Final encompassed the full variety of talent that Oundle possesses. A drum kit solo sat alongside the Mozart slow movement for harp and flute, Satriani on electric guitar was performed, as well as Tarrega on classical guitar, and Glazunov's ‘Elegie’ for viola sat in stark contrast to Say's ‘Paganini Jazz’ on the piano.

Quentin added, “Fifteen finalists impressed with flawless and stunningly musical renditions, and it would be unfair to single out any pupil other than those winners as determined by the adjudicator, John Moore, Director of Music at Shrewsbury. In summary, he offered a thought-provoking delivery about music technology and the role of every musician in determining the future of music. He raved about Oundle's musical prowess and commended the incredible and invigorating work that is so palpably evolving.”

Ultimately, given the standard across the evening, the adjudicator was looking for performances that went beyond the music - that communicated and touched him. He commended George Cobb (17) who sang Schonberg's ‘Why God, Why’, and Bethany Peck (16) who performed Jacob's trombone concerto. Mr Moore felt compelled to share the Tatum Cup (2nd prize) between Molly-May Keston (17), who sang Menken’s ‘The Life I Never Had’, and Sam Rees (17) who wooed the audience with stylish and evocative classical guitar, performing Tarrega’s ‘Capricho Arabe’.

The winner was a performer who showed incredible musicianship, total command and created outstanding levels of atmosphere and aura. Performing from memory, Rebecca Baker-Munton (16) played floor toms and vibraphone with two contrasting works by Zivkovic and Schmitt.
Eminent adjudicators throughout the competition included Mark Messenger (Professor Royal College of Music), Thomas Carroll (Professor Royal College of Music), Alexander Ardakov (Professor Trinity College of Music), Paul Esswood (one of the world's leading counter-tenors), Paul Saunders (West End music director), Christina Slominska (freelancer with BBC National Orchestra of Wales), and Louis Thorne (guitarist and commercial writer).


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. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.  

There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11. 

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