‘It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing’
At the start of the summer holidays, forty-three pupil musicians and members of Oundle School’s Jazz Orchestras (OSJO1 and OSJO2) along with six members of staff boarded a coach bound for Lausanne for the start of their jazz tour. The bands performed in four concerts: two at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival, one in Lausanne itself, and one just on the French side of Lake Geneva in the beautiful town of Lugrin.
On the first evening, the bands settled down to a rehearsal in the open courtyard of the hostel in front of the surprised youth hostellers. This went down a treat with the guests - some even filming the pupils as they struggled to keep their eyes open on their impromptu garden stage. They revised and polished a few numbers before retiring for the night.
A leisurely breakfast was followed by a trip to the Olympic Museum, a dip in the Piscine de Bellerive and then it was time for their first scheduled concert - a ‘gig’ in the auditorium of a local casino had been lined up that evening. The next morning the bands prepared for their first ‘gig’ at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival.
Saxophonist Hugo Walford (16) commented, “The extravagant recording equipment scattered across the stage was intimidating but we rather enjoyed being individually miked and sound-checked! The stage was set… and it was fantastic to see hundreds of people gather and listen to ‘Music in the Park’.”
OSJO2 (Oundle’s apprentice band) began their set with their favourite rendition of It Don’t Mean a Thing. OSJO1 then took over, relishing the opportunity to play to their biggest audience yet. Their three vocalists, Cazzie Winterton (17), George Cobb (16), and Sarah Boyle (17) sang brilliantly, with Henry Sleight’s (16) clarinet solo being especially noteworthy. CD sales went through the roof!
Over the next couple of days, band members enjoyed a visit to the salt mines of Bex and a mountain trek with a luge-ing opportunity at the bottom. They were rewarded with the Maison Callier chocolate factory and its free and unrestrained tasting session.
There was much amusement at the start of the next concert, over on the French side of the lake in Lugrin, as the pupils appeared to have driven all the way to France just to play to a few of their parents! However within minutes of starting to play, the village square filled with villagers and there were soon plenty swinging along.
Hugo commented, “The challenge we faced this time was the setting sun, and whether stylish or not, the whole band had to wear sunglasses in order to see the music!
There were mixed feelings as we checked out of our hostel the next morning – a part of us wanted to get home and just sleep for about a week, but we had really enjoyed the sunshine and the jazzy mood of the tour. Thankfully, it wasn’t over yet – we had our final ‘gig’ at Montreux and we were determined to make it our best one yet. It was on the same stage, but we were playing to about twice as many people.”
OSJO2 kicked the concert off as usual, and enjoyed having their blues relayed around the whole festival through the speakers. OSJO1 excelled themselves as their wide repertoire was brilliantly performed and well received.
Director of Music and tour leader, Quentin Thomas commented, “It was a very happy tour – great company, superb food, a wonderful itinerary and inspirational venues fuelled the week. Thank you to all the staff who supported the pupils on tour.”
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.