On Sunday 9 November, the Oundle School music department hosted a ‘String Day’ involving 160 string players from the Royal College of Music (with whom the school has been in partnership since 2012), Oundle’s own massed strings and younger players from a variety of prep and primary schools.
Amidst the music-making and workshops, there was a chance to discuss the work of Oundle’s Alexander Technique teaching department and the Strings in Balance project – a project which is unique to Oundle and looks at bespoke chin and collar rests for violin players.
Director of nusic, Quentin Thomas commented: “The real joy came from the excitement of performing our endeavours to our audience who were packed to the rafters in the Great Hall.”
The audience heard a massed strings performance of Jenkins’ Palladio, Laxton Junior School’s version of Ryan’s Polka, before the older string players played Moravian Folk Dance (Fischer) and the first and third movements of the Holberg Suite (Grieg). The Royal College of Music continued with Strauss’ Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings, a work linked with the Second World War, with Strauss responding to the bombing of Munich with this haunting work. The concert concluded with massed strings performing an arrangement of both Elfman and Zimmer’s Batman – The Dark Knight Rises, specially written for the occasion by Quentin Thomas, director of music, for no fewer than four string orchestras and an array of percussion.
Quentin concluded, “It was a terrific day and a joy to see the different tiers of ages and standards merging for impressive and powerful renditions of quality music. Our thanks to Mr Angus Gibbon, head of strings, for organising such a memorable and fun day.”
Choral, instrumental and organ scholarships at Oundle School are awarded at 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry, in recognition of proven talent and solely on merit. Scholarships are underpinned by bursary assistance if the financial circumstances of the individual family necessitate it.
The partnership arrangement with the Royal College of Music originated in January 2012 and means that pupils from Oundle can gain the experience of working with professors and students from the college, both in Oundle and London.
Pupils from Oundle are invited to various masterclasses and workshops at RCM while professors and heads of department from the RCM regularly visit the school to give masterclasses and to judge the school’s annual Hepburn Music Competition. Oundle School orchestras and ensembles give concerts in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall at the Royal College of Music in London. Other events have included pupils attending rehearsals for Bruckner 8 taken by Bernard Haitink and the Chamber Orchestra’s performances of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto with Francesca Dego, Italian violinist and ex-RCM student as part of the school’s general studies programme.