On 8th March, a celebration of Oundle music was held in one of Europe’s premier concert venues, the Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Every member of Oundle School, all 1110 pupils together with staff, parents, former pupils, governors and guests, travelled to Birmingham for a whole School Concert incorporating both the traditional and innovative elements of music at Oundle. Over three hundred and fifty pupil musicians and singers performed with an emphasis on whole School and massed performance, combining string groups, bands, choirs and large ensembles. The whole School was involved in singing Novello’s Keep the Home Fires Burning and Parry’s Jerusalem.
Oundle pupils last performed in Symphony Hall in 2011 and prior to that in 2006 as part of the 450th celebrations of the founding of the School.
Before the concert began concert-goers were entertained by members of Oundle Brass, who set the tone for what was a hugely enjoyable afternoon. During the interval, percussion ensembles joined forces to entertain in the foyer.
The concert opened with Curnow’s Fanfare and Flourishes performed by Oundle’s Wind Orchestra. The Chamber Orchestra followed with the first movement from the Jupiter Symphony by Mozart, after which a strings and percussion with choirs from Laxton Junior School and Oundle School performed Adiemus. Schola Cantorum and Chapel Choir sang Coming Home and Sure on this Shining Night respectively.
The first half concluded with Oundle School’s Jazz Orchestras performing a selection of numbers including It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington.
The Symphony Orchestra opened the second half with the first movement from Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 with former pupil and current teacher, James Kirby on piano. Boys from St Anthony House, the winners of the House Part Song competition performed Let it Go from the Disney film Frozen and the event was drawn to a close with pipers, snares and organ performing Highland Cathedral and the School’s Combined Cadet Force Drumming Corps and CCF Marching Band performing Olympic Spirit.
Director of Music, Quentin Thomas, commented, “Music offers one of the greatest daily workouts for the body, mind and soul. From processing and analysing dots on a page, via eyes, ears and many a motor neuron, to engaging emotion, independent learning, leadership, posture, discipline and team-work, it is a source of incredible wonder and beauty that all this can be exercised regularly and simultaneously. Our aim was to deliver an eclectic programme that fulfilled, challenged and developed our performers whilst entertaining our audience.”
Head, Sarah Kerr-Dineen concluded, “The opportunity for our pupils to perform in such a magnificent location is one they will never forget. Music for all is a central component of Oundle’s rich heritage and the occasion gave us a chance to come together in a way we seldom do to celebrate the excellence of our musicians.”
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.