Since March, our Performing Arts have been exceptionally busy. In addition to our very successful (and messy!) production of ‘Bugsy Malone’, here is a roundup of all the events since the start of March.
Choral Festival at Stowe
The Summer term has begun with great focus and commitment from our musicians, as we have come to expect, and so it was a lovely treat for the Junior Chapel Choir to head to Stowe School on Tuesday 9 May for a Choral Festival. The day was wonderfully organised by Stowe’s Director of Music, Geoffrey Silver, and the pupils were hugely inspired by their work with Apollo 5 and Paul Smyth, a respected choral expert. Aside from the enormous range of choice at lunch, frequent biscuits and a delightful afternoon tea, the highlight of the day was an exciting concert to parents, where the massed choir was able to demonstrate the full gamut of emotions, call and response calypso, and improvisation over chords. The pupils were really buzzing after the busy day, and did not want to leave! Our thanks go to Stowe School for a very valuable and exciting day.
Lent Term Concert
Not content with our London outings, we turned our attention to an even better performance venue: The Ravenscroft! All of our ensembles, including the Pre-Prep Orchestra and our Community Choir, performed in an impressively well-oiled and polished showcase of commitment and musicianship on Thursday 23 March. The ever-improving standard of ensembles and engagement from our musicians was widely commented upon.
We are exceptionally proud of all of our performers, whether in the musical or dramatic spheres, or as is commonly the case, both! We are grateful to all of our visiting teachers, who have worked so hard with pupils behind the scenes to ensure a successful term, evidenced not only through the great diversity of activity, but also the outstanding examination results recently confirmed, with 41% of entrants receiving a Distinction in ABRSM examinations, and 46% gaining Distinction in LAMDA examinations (with nobody receiving below a Merit in the latter). Well done to all!
Taking just a couple of days to recover from the run of ‘Bugsy Malone’, our next destination was the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre for Barnardo’s National Choral Competition Finals. Competing against 17 other Junior schools, we acquitted ourselves exceptionally well. The standard was astronomical, and it was nigh on impossible to separate the choirs. Although we did not walk away with any crystal, the adjudicators’ comments were glowing:
“Well centred tuning.”
“Lovely phrasing and sensitively handled lower notes.”
“Well balanced between the parts.”
“Full secure tone with well enunciated words”
“Communicated real enjoyment.”
This was a wonderful experience for our Senior Chapel Choir, bringing Bilton Grange to the national stage; thank you to all the parents and friends who were able to come and support us.
A Tree of Song
There being no rest for the wicked or the talented, the Senior Chapel Choir ventured to St John’s, Smith Square, to take part in A Celebration of Kodály with the British Kodály Academy and schools from around the UK. The concert featured the world première of Bob Chilcott’s ‘A Tree of Song’, commissioned for the event, and our pupils handled the mixed metre and modal harmony with great panache. It was a pleasure to work with Dr László Norbert Nemes (Director of the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy of Music) and Dr Douglas Coombes MBE, who were most complimentary about our singers. Our performance of ‘Kookaburra’ in the concert was very well-received, and the pupils thoroughly enjoyed listening to the other schools as well as the Banchieri Singers and the Joyful Company of Singers, with both ensembles demonstrating the long-term benefits of a Kodály-inspired music education.
March Musical Soirée
The very next evening, on Friday 3 March, musicians entertained a large audience of parents and friends with the usual wide range of instruments and repertoire. Some pupils found this a valuable chance to perform examination pieces, foreshadowing another successful ABRSM session.
Speech & Drama Showcase
On Thursday 2 March, a good number of Speech & Drama pupils performed in the more intimate setting of the Pugin Library. There were some wonderful performances, with a particular highlight being Ms Barker stepping in for one of her pupils to play a territorial cat; she made a most convincing feline.
Director of Performing Arts