On Sunday 9th October, seven unusual Oundle School venues played host to seven different ensembles visited by audiences who were led from venue to venue by pupil tour guides.
Director of Music, Quentin Thomas commented, “These aural amuses-bouches flowed seamlessly as each group - hitting each quarter of an hour - were given a little history of each building, a musical performance and a carefully considered walk to the next venue on their unique carousel of a journey.”
Performance spaces included both large and intimate arenas, and a few off the beaten track. The black walls of the Fives Court were dramatically lit in subdued colour with a water-like effect projected onto the roof as Schola Cantorum sang Duruflé in the Cathedral-like acoustic. Their second piece was Whitacre’s Lux, a piece about light, for which the singers placed the lights of their mobile phones on the floor in an otherwise pitch-black space - stunning, unique and magical in equal measure.
Pupil musician, Michael Woo (16) offered Schubert’s Gb Impromptu on the piano in Crosby House’s impressive Library, the School Chapel was host to OSJO2, and the Yarrow Gallery (with its associations with WW1) was a heart-moving bubble of three war songs, offered by Jack Wallace-Woodroffe (16), Coco Brown (18) and George Cobb (18), with art-work by pupils hanging purposefully in the background.
Oundle’s recently newly extended SciTec building was home to a punchy number from a Brass ensemble accompanied by cool blues and greens around the swirling staircase, followed by the Cripps Library hosting a Moldavian Folk number performed by bristling strings. The audience assembled in the newly refurbished Patrick Engineering Centre with the OSJO1 offering a rousing and impressive finale from the Car Pit, much to the utter enjoyment of all.
This was a fresh take on music-making, and the idea came from the Director of Music, Quentin Thomas who concluded “We have the pleasure of working amongst some of the greatest resources in the most beautiful buildings. This was a chance to celebrate our glorious surroundings with our music, and for the ensembles and pupils to experience acoustics and atmospheres wholly different from the norm. We are grateful to every member of staff who allowed us to roam so freely in to their work-places. It must happen again!”
Oundle’s Music Facilities and Partnerships
Music at Oundle is a thriving, inspiring and buoyant culture of music-making in all styles, led by an enthusiastic, dedicated and highly experienced team of fifty-two staff. The Department aspires to high standards in both performance and academic work, and its programme extends into almost every area of musicianship; ‘Music for All’ is a fundamental principle of the Department’s work.
Participation in instrumental and choral ensembles, large and small, inspires loyalty, confidence and an appreciation of excellence. The School’s Symphony, Chamber and String Orchestras, Oundle Brass, the Concert Band, the Symphonic Wind Orchestra and Big Band offer opportunities for pupils to perform in a wide variety of styles, and the Chapel Choir and Schola Cantorum maintain Oundle’s strong choral tradition. There is also a vast line-up of instrumental ensembles performing regularly.
The Music school is housed in a handsome and newly refurbished Georgian building which has a range of practice and teaching rooms, music library, technology suite and recording studio. Oundle’s partnership with Yamaha offers a fleet of first-class pianos across the entire School. The Chapel boasts two organs – the world renowned Frobenius Organ and a larger romantic, Copeman Hart organ. The Great Hall has a Steinway D grand piano and the School also has a two manual harpsichord and practice organ.
Concerto opportunities, solo performance experiences, tours (such as to Hong Kong, France, Switzerland, Italy, Barbados, Ireland, USA, Austria, Germany), recordings and a plethora of concerts (many in prestigious concert halls such as Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Royal College of Music in London, St John’s Smith Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey) are constantly evolving projects, ensuring that a live, vibrant and stimulating environment pervades across the Music department.
Oundle School has a special partnership with the Royal College of Music in London. There are regular events where pupils and students play alongside each other during visits from RCM Big Band and RCM String Band. This partnership also enables Oundle School access to masterclasses and visits to Oundle by leading professors and students from RCM.