Singing at Starbucks

Last Tuesday lunchtime, 12th December, a small group of singers went along to Starbucks to help out the St Ann’s hospice fundraisers.

St Ann’s hospice were grateful and said that they received more donations from passers-by while we were singing. We all got into the festive spirit, singing a variety of traditional carols as well as Have Yourself a merry little Christmas and our favourite, Carol of the Bells!

Carol Singing in Starbucks

AGGS Christmas Concert 2017

Christmas Concert 2017
Christmas Concert 2017

This year’s Christmas concerts showcased a record number of students – over 260 in total – as usual performing a wide variety of music from Howard Blake’s ‘The Snowman’, performed by Junior Choir and String Orchestra to the Jazz Band’s cover of ‘Feeling Good’, starring Y12 singer Effi-Nicki S.

All 16 ensembles/choirs/orchestras/bands were featured across 2 evenings, to packed halls and there was a lovely festive atmosphere, complete with Christmas tree and tinselled instruments – the most ingenious being Faith Edwards’ french horn, literally lit up with fairy lights!

Thanks as usual go to all performers, who dedicate so much of their free time to practising and attending rehearsals, to all staff and Sixth-Form student ensemble leaders who direct them. Also to the Art Department for some fantastic art work on the programmes, Mrs Brennan in Reprographics, the caretaking staff and PTA for providing refreshments. We also could not put on such evenings without the generous support of staff who supervise students during the concert.

Thankyou to all!

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Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming ‘Safe’ Netflix series

Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series

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!

Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix seriesAfter 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.

Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix seriesThe 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….!

Ms Mayall

Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series Joint Netflix choir project for upcoming 'Safe' Netflix series

John Stephens, CEO, writes about his recent experience returning to singing in a choir!

Taken from John Stephens (CEO of BFET) weekly newsletter:

Weep O Mine Eyes, Elizabethan Madrigal‘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.’

A2 Music Student Gains Full Marks for Composing!

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.

 

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