Beethoven could not have imagined that his concertos would one day be performed via small computer screens emitting the type of music cats model their screams on. During the lockdowns, pupils all over the country proved that an online orchestra is not that easy to pull off. We returned to the Great Hall this year, where I joined my first in-person whole School orchestra; getting players in one room does indeed trump any online version.

The Music department this year has rocketed back to its usual momentum, including the scheduling of its 900 music lessons per week in the same room as the teacher. This was, again, a vast improvement on online lessons.

Marcus McDevitt

Oundle pupils did not seem to have lost their musical abilities over the various lockdowns and solo isolations, with Rohan Dahiya (L U6) gaining the principal tuba seat in the National Youth Orchestra in the Michaelmas term, and Marcus McDevitt (L U6, right) gaining an organ scholarship to Oxford.

One of the big musical events in the Michaelmas term was violinist Gabriella Teychenné’s (OO) return to Oundle. She
is the current assistant conductor for the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the lead conductor in overseas orchestras and operas. During her visit she conducted the Chamber Orchestra and led masterclasses in conducting. Two more masterclasses were offered on piano by the brilliant Melvyn Tan, and on string instruments by Michael Bochmann. On both occasions, Tan and Bochmann joined the Chamber and Symphony Orchestras to direct our playing. Tchaikowsky and Vivaldi would have been pleased to hear the advancements made in our interpretations of their music.

Beyond the Great Hall, the Oundle School Jazz Orchestra have been entertaining audiences with their sold-out events. The need to book weeks in advance to get a ticket is testimony to the calibre of music produced. Among these popular concerts were Evenings of Jazz at both St Andrew’s and St Peter’s churches.

The Marching Band also made numerous public appearances, including the annual polished display at the Passing Out Parade, and the parade for HRH Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The CCF band also returned to Franklin’s Gardens where it played during the half time break at the cup fixture between Northampton Saints and Ulster.

Most pupils take part in the annual Hepburn Musical Festival, a programme packed with as many performances by as many people as the Music department can persuade to participate, which turns out to be a lot. The Festival culminates in selected performances at the Hepburn Final. There were outstanding performances from many. I especially loved the classical singers. Opera in another language is an extremely difficult skill to master and pupils seemed to rise to the challenge. This year’s overall winner was Marcus McDevitt (L U6).

The Music department this year has rocketed back to its usual momentum, including the scheduling of its 900 music lessons per week in the same room as the teacher.
Nancy, Wyatt

Weekly Lunchtime Concerts at St Peter’s Church offered another opportunity for many people to get involved in performing.

The biggest event involving masses of pupils was the House Shout competition and the slightly more refined Part-Song competition. Kirkeby’s House Shout entry of a highly choreographed rendition of So What by Pink, tragically missed a podium place. This year’s overall winner was Wyatt House.

For more traditional singing, the Chapel Choir performed its extensive repertoire throughout the year, including Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych’s Carol of the Bells and pieces arranged by Thomas Alban (B 5) and Marcus McDevitt (L U6). A sung compline took place with the Schola Cantorum, and a whole-choir trip was taken to St Luke’s Church, London. A day trip to London packed with psalm singing, hymn humming and a late evening invasion of Pizza Express, complete with dough balls and chocolate cake, was enough incentive to join Chapel Choir.

Where next

The event this year with the most electric atmosphere was February’s revamped Guitar Madness, renamed Re:Loaded, with Mr Gardiner undertaking the run of it. Roaring rock, country classics, opulent originals and brilliant ballads were all flaunted in an unforgettable demonstration of talent and compelling stage presences. The best news to follow the evening was that these theatre-based concerts will become more regular events in the Oundle calendar. The fact that the waiting list for tickets to this sold-out event was hundreds long proves its popularity, and more shows to come will give more pupils the opportunity to take part.

Written by
Nancy, Wyatt

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