31 January 2020

This year’s Chamber Music Workshop gave a rare insight into the very exciting small ensemble work that is going on behind the scenes in the Music department at the moment. The images give a snapshot of the wide range of music-making that is being prepared for the national Pro Corda Festival of Chamber Music of which the qualifying round takes place next week. It also gives a glimpse of what we can expect at the Annual Chamber Music Concert after half term on Wednesday 26 February.

As is the custom, Head of Strings, Mariette Pringle devised an afternoon timetable of chamber music coaching to be offered to our ensembles by a team of visiting professional musicians. This year we again turned to our own instrumental staff, including Mr Crehan (violin), Mrs Findlay (cello), Miss Drew (clarinet) and Miss Harré (double bass) to provide this teaching. It was lovely to enjoy once more the beautiful new suite of larger rooms for ensemble coaching on the east side of the Amey Theatre Arts Centre.

Our musicians were able to work with groups of strings, woodwind, brass and pianists from all levels of the school. They included a clarinet ensemble playing an arrangement of a Tchaikovsky Symphony, a very exciting senior brass quintet playing Yorke’s Shipbuilders’ Suite, as well as Dvorak’s truly symphonic Piano Quartet.

It was gratifying to see the detail of work, the concentration of the musicians and the progress that was being achieved throughout the afternoon. These coaching sessions allow for a depth of work not usually possible in the brief rehearsal slots that are available in a typically frantic school day, so they are hugely valued.

Our thanks must go to all the teachers, to the pupils and, indeed, to the sports staff for their forbearance in releasing one or two musicians for this hugely enjoyable and beneficial afternoon of music making.

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