28th & 29th November 2017, 7pm, Main Hall
Adults £7, Concessions: £3
Tickets Available from Reception
LCO Autumn Concert 2017 featuring David Keating on the Guitar:
Sunday 19th November, 3pm, AGGS Main Hall. Free to AGGS students.
The project began life on A level results day when I was asked if we were interested in providing a choir for an episode of an upcoming Netflix series ‘Safe’ – and could I find some suitable haunting music for a short assembly scene, ideally not in copyright!
After much consultation with other musical/choir friends, Red film company unanimously liked the beautiful English madrigal we chose – ‘Weep o mine eyes’ by Bennet. Written in 1599, during a wonderful compositional period of English madrigal/part-songs, this SATB piece was perfect for the remit: poignant, not too long, and for the mixed voices of the film choir scene.
We approached AGSB for tenor/bass voices and were delighted when they found 7 students who would like to sing with the 15 AGGS Chamber choir soprano/altos.
After just one rehearsal – augmented by just a few adult teacher singers, the film production team recorded the track professionally at school.
The project culminated in a long film shoot Sunday, beginning with breakfast at 7.30am, ending with the last shot taken at 5pm! The school was unrecognisable, with the Main Hall now the assembly space of the fictitious ‘St Winifred’s School’, complete with new school uniforms for all the choir, a false wall in place in the hall and a different school crest etc etc…
The complete cast of around 80 were present, including some famous names – watch the series to see who!
After a total of 15 takes of the recording, where we sang over our pre-recorded track, different actors were featured/different angles of the choir were taken, and all students were a credit to themselves in their professionalism during what was a fairly arduous process. Despite this, however, no one grew tired of the madrigal: the hallmark, possibly of great music! Indeed, several film crew and cast commented how much they loved the music…
I was privileged to have coached the 7 actors who formed part of the choir, to mime convincingly as they sang with the choir – who also did brilliantly and very much looked the part.
This has been a wonderful joint venture for all students and staff involved, not least to sing Renaissance polyphony together, but to sing 4 part harmony, and to collaborate across both schools.
We feature in the opening scene of episode 4, but our choir madrigal recording will be used as a theme throughout….!
Taken from John Stephens (CEO of BFET) weekly newsletter:
‘Earlier this week I had the great experience of joining a mixed choir of students from AGGS and the boys’ grammar school to sing an Elizabethan madrigal in four-part harmony. It’s about thirty years since I last sang anything like this, and despite having done my homework on the piece I was terrified at the prospect of displaying my ‘new learning’ so publicly. Moreover, the group had never sung together before. In the event, I needn’t have worried – we were, after all, in the hands of an expert teacher in Ms. Mayall, AGGS’ Head of Music. She got the best out of us with the right balance of critique, high expectations, challenge, encouragement and good humour, the last of which provided the right climate for us to get comfortable in that inevitable dissonance of new learning.’
Ruby James gained full marks in the composition module at A2 level (2017) – the first time a student has achieved this at AGGS!
‘On English Greens‘ is a beautiful piece written for string quartet, inspired by Ruby’s love of English ‘pastoral’ music, particularly that of Vaughan Williams, and also her love of folk music.
The piece is performed by the Picadilly String Quartet and was recorded in April 2017.
This week we were treated to a lunchtime concert entitled ‘Summertime’ given by some talented staff from AGGS. This is a first for the school and came about as a result of Ms Mayall discovering that Mrs Butt (Trips co-ordinator) is an RNCM vocal music graduate in pop/jazz.
Thanks go to all 7 performers who gave up their time to rehearse for this event: Mrs Dickinson (voice), Mr Hodgson (banjo/voice), Mrs Hulme (voice), Mrs Stokes (cello), Mrs Butt(voice) and Ms Mayall (piano). Repertoire ranged from a piano Rachmaninov prelude to main song from Whistle down the Wind. Mrs Stokes also played Summertime on her cello, in keeping with the theme.
Thanks also to Miss Bown for assisting us with sound and photos and to Mrs Brennan and Mrs Butt for co-ordinating the flyer/programme.
80 girls performed in this annual Summer concert – a smaller event as many of the older girls are not in school, but nevertheless full of variety and quality of performances.
The programme included some very promising Y7 soloists, 3 Y10 GCSE soloists, Saxophone Ensemble, Jazz Band, Junior Choir and String Orchestra. Also Recorder Ensemble and Junior Strings – both led by students.
Many Y11 and Y13 students returned from their study leave to perform in String Orchestra and Recorder Ensemble. The former’s programme of very high calibre, with Anna T (Y11 and studying singing at the Junior RNCM) performing a Handel aria, accompanied by the String Orchestra, and a piece composed by a former parent, Adrienne Spilsbury (mother of Cerys and Ffion).
Junior Choir performed a 10 min fun cantata : Rooster Rag, describing the entertaining journey of a hen, rooster and cunning fox, using solos/choruses and some entertaining images on the screen. Thanks go to the Art Dpt for excellent masks and also the caretaking team, reprographics, staff helpers and PTA/World Challenge team for all of their support, without whom we could not put these kind of events on.
Maddie H, a Year 10 GCSE musician, performed at the Closing Ceremony of this year’s combined BFET Sports Day. She sang and played the guitar in front of a large crowd, which was a fantastic way of closing the day, and a great experience for her.
Well done, Maddie.
Students from Y7-13 performed informally this year at the Summer Fair both in the hall and outside in the Centenary Garden. They provided us with around 2 hours of music, including the recorder ensemble, and students playing piano/singing. This was a new initiative and it provided a lovely atmosphere at the fair.
For the second year running, this evening event was held in AGGS Main Hall. Approx 160 new Y7 parents/students attended and listened to an introductory talk, given by Ms Mayall, explaining the value of learning to play an instrument, the value of learning an ‘endangered’ instrument in particular, and also the music provision provided at school in terms of curriculum music lessons, extra-curricular music clubs (orchestras/bands/ensembles/choirs), in addition to optional instrumental lessons.
This year, 8 current Y7 students performed a short piece, showcasing the progress they had made on their instrument since September – all of these students demonstrated on ‘endangered’ instruments (brass, oboe, bassoon, drum kit, double bass) and their performances were really appreciated by the audience. New Y7s then had the opportunity to try out some of these instruments and apply for lessons. This new initiative is proving really popular and is also proving successful in building up the numbers of students opting for these more unusual instruments, which then feed our orchestras/ensembles etc and give them a life skill that will be highly sought after!
Feedback from parents was extremely positive. This initiative is part of our PTI Associate Department project, of which we have just completed our first year.