Music-making is integral to life at Abingdon and is reflected in the range and variety of activities available through the Other Half. There are plenty of opportunities to perform: from our showcase concerts, for the most able musicians at Christmas and at the end of the year, to occasions for the lower school strings, bands and choir to take to the stage.
This close harmony group exists for keen senior singers to develop their choral, sight-singing and solo skills, prior to applying for Choral Awards to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, in particular. Throughout the year we sing at a number of concerts and high-profile events within the School as well as in the local community. The music performed ranges from home-grown arrangements of well-known and well-loved ‘pop/rock/easy listening’ songs through professional King’s Singers’ arrangements to intimate church music settings.
Ever popular, Big Band performs at the Christmas Concerts, the New Year Concert, the Spring/Summer Concert and often at its own “Jazz on a Summer Evening”. Regular tours abroad include a highly successful visit to Tuscany and a tour to the USA playing in Boston, New York City and Washington DC. Big Band has also made two CDs and joined the Orchestra on the Japan/Hong Kong tour in 2019.
The Blues Society is now an established opportunity for musicians playing contemporary instruments (guitars, keyboards, horns, drums) to learn to play together, with opportunities for performance. We tend to focus on songs from soul and blues genres; enthusiasm, rather than great skill, is the main requirement.
Performs at the the Christmas Concerts or New Year Concert and the Spring/ Summer Concert. Also plays at special assemblies and other services, including every Christmas at the Community Service Tea Party.
A full range of ensembles, numbering between 30 and 40, are rehearsed weekly by members of the visiting music staff. They include a comprehensive range of ensembles for strings, woodwind and brass, and they meet at different times of the week. Any boys wishing to be involved in this work should ask for further details from the music staff.
String Trios, Quartets and Quintets; Saxophone Quartet; Bassoon Quartet; Flute Choirs; Double Reed Ensemble; Clarinet Ensemble; Wind Quintet; Jazz Ensembles; Brass Quintets; Piano Trios; String Quartets; Abingdon Academicals – close harmony and many more miscellaneous ensembles.
The ensembles perform in two special chamber music concerts after a day of ensemble workshops with coaching from distinguished musicians, prior to competing in the Pro Corda Chamber Music Competition, in which Abingdon groups have won places in the finals concerts for many years.
Chamber Orchestra consists of excellent string players who perform on Open Day, Christmas, New Year and Spring/Summer Concert. This Orchestra supports candidates for their A-level exams and gives concerto opportunities to chosen soloists. Chamber Orchestra regularly takes part in international tours including Japan 2019.
The Chapel Choir sings for the School Carol, Commemoration and Leavers' services, and makes termly visits to sing Choral Evensong in college chapels and cathedrals in a wide area. The Choir tours both at home and abroad and has released a CD.
Led by Abingdon Music Teacher and Composer, Dr Jason Preece, this is a session for budding composers – or anyone interested in the craft of composition – to expand their composing experience and learn about the mechanics of how music works. The sessions will include some ‘taught’ elements where composers’ techniques are introduced and some more improvisatory and exploratory sessions in which boys will learn about the essentials of different vocal, instrumental and choral forces and how to write for them.
FTV Music Club
Open to film, tv and video-game music enthusiasts alike; avid movie fans are also welcome. We will be discussing the power and importance of music in modern media, and eventually, we will be writing and setting our own music to video extracts using music notation and technology, or even performing our compositions live. The first few sessions will focus more on introducing these concepts, and having some fun while learning about different composers and soundtracks (quizzes!), but gradually we will look in more depth at case studies that can inspire us in our own work.
Gospel Choir embraces a more popular style of choral singing which is both accessible and life-affirming. You don't need to be able to read music to join this choir as you will be taught the music by rote. There will be some traditional Gospel songs and arrangements of popular songs in a Gospel style!
Joint Chamber Choir
This select group of advanced singers from Abingdon and St Helen’s exists to explore the most challenging and rewarding pieces in the Choral repertoire. This mixed voice ensemble allows nine Abindonian Tenors and Basses to experience singing alongside nine female Altos and Sopranos from St Helen & St Katherine’s. It performs at concerts for both schools and serves as an important platform for potential Oxbridge choral scholarship candidates.
Joint Choral Society
Open to all boys and compulsory for GCSE/A-level musicians. JCS mounts a full choral concert each November alongside singers and instrumentalists from St Helen and St Katharine School.
Performs during the year but especially for Lower School Gala Concert.
For all string players from beginner to about Grade 5 standard. The atmosphere is relaxed and the ensemble progress significantly throughout the year.
This activity enables a small group of selected students to learn about studio techniques and the history of audio recording, under the guidance of a Music Technologist. Lessons are also offered to students on a one-to-one basis and several boys have gone on to forge careers in sound recording.
First Orchestra plays at both Autumn/Christmas Concerts and the Summer Orchestral Concert.
It is one of the music department’s flagship ensembles. It has achieved a considerable reputation in recent years for producing quality performances of mainstream symphonic repertoire. Its success can be accounted for by the now well-established tradition of proactive recruitment across the full range of orchestral instruments among the younger boys (including French horn, bassoon and double bass) and offering instrumental tuition from a particularly distinguished team of some 35 instrumental teachers. The Orchestra performs in the Christmas, New Year concerts and Spring/ Summer Concert and at prestigious venues at home and abroad including Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre. The Orchestra tours frequently to Europe, the USA and the Far East. The most recent tour was to Japan and Hong Kong in summer 2019.
Second Orchestra is a full symphonic orchestra which reaches a high standard. It performs at least twice a year at Christmas or New Year Concert and in the Spring/Summer Concert.
Symphonic Wind Band
Performs twice a year at the Autumn/Christmas Concerts and the School Bands Concert. There is plenty of opportunity to play some of the great scores of music from the shows.