The College enjoys a fine international reputation for the excellence and variety of its music. The Music Department comprises the Director of Music (Richard Quesnel), two further full-time staff, twenty-four visiting teachers and a part-time Music Administrator. The full-time members of music staff teach throughout the College with a varied timetable that incorporates all years and the peripatetic staff offer tuition in all disciplines in addition to singing (changed and unchanged voices), organ and harp. Several teach both within the College and the Junior School which is located about one mile away in Weybridge.
THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT
Music plays a prominent part in the school’s life and is keenly supported by pupils, members of staff and parents. The Music Department houses a Recital Room (seating up to 100) and a large classroom equipped with 24 PCs running Sibelius, Cubase and Audacity as well as access to 24 keyboards. There are several small study/teaching rooms, several practice rooms (each with a piano/clavinova) and store rooms with lockers for pupils to store their instruments. The Department also has its own Gamelan, Samba Kit, set of African Drums, Roland digital harpsichord, and staff offices. Large scale choral and orchestral concerts take place in the College Chapel (seating 800) which houses a three manual organ by Hugh Banton (installed in 1999) and a Yamaha C7 Grand Piano. The Parents’ Society actively supports the music making and recent funding has covered projects including the purchase of a set of posture chairs for the Orchestra and a Recording Room, equipped with iMac and professional microphones.
Choral and liturgical music is a core long-standing part of the school’s tradition and the choirs enjoy an outstanding international reputation in this regard. Performance opportunities for pupils are varied and numerous with several choirs catering for changed and unchanged voices of all ages. The College Chamber Choir is an auditioned ensemble; all other choirs are open to everyone and all sing a wide and varied repertoire of music. The Chamber Choir has an active schedule which includes concerts within school, external engagements, recordings, broadcasts, and tours. Previous tour destinations have included America (East and West Coast including performances at our Josephite sister school in California), Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Spain. The Chamber Choir was the 2012 BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year and Barnardo’s Senior School Choir of the year.
The choirs have recorded 4 discs, releasing the most recent one in November 2015, Follow that Star. In addition to termly concerts there is an annual choral concert combining the school choirs with the Staff/Parent Choral Society and recent works include Mozart Solemn Vespers, Michael Haydn Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Poulenc’s Gloria and Monteverdi Vespers (1610), with period ensemble. Recent choral workshops have included leading international figures including Bob Chilcott, Edward Higginbottom, and Bronwen Mills.
In November 2018, the Music Department collaborated with Drama to perform a full-staged production of The Sound of Music with professional band in the Amanda Smith Theatre.
Over 250 pupils take individual instrumental/voice lessons each week and there are numerous ensembles in which instrumentalists participate including a String Camerata, Wind Band, Symphony Orchestra and several other chamber groups some of which are run by peripatetic staff. A number of rock groups flourish within the department thanks to specialist tuition offered through our Rockshop programme and the College also offers Grade 5 theory classes and training for aural examinations.
Pupils are encouraged to participate in an ensemble as soon as they are able to and some Music Scholars run their own groups and rehearsals. To support this, the College has an extensive concert schedule over the course of the year, including performances at the end of term, services of worship, community projects, the Lunchtime Live series, Inter-House Singing/Carols/Music Competitions, workshops and masterclasses.
MUSIC IN THE CURRICULUM
Music is a core-subject in the first three years the First & Second Years (NC Years 7 & 8) receiving two lessons per week and the Third Year (NC Year 9) having one lesson per week; beginner instrumental schemes may operate in the First Year along with an annual semi-staged musical. The Lower School music course caters for musicians of all types. Topics include Musicals, World Music, Minimalism & studies in Baroque, Classical, Romantic programme music, Pop and Film music. The course incorporates opportunities for performance, composing, music technology and developing listening skills. Pupils may opt to take Music for GCSE (Edexcel) and A2 Level (AQA) and there is currently one set in each of the Fourth and Fifth Years. Academic standards in music are good with 60% of pupils attaining Grade 9 at GCSE (100% 9-6) and 100% A-B at A-level.
Georgian pupils have successfully gained places in the national Duet Philharmonic Orchestra, London Schools’ Symphony Orchestra, National Children’s Orchestra, National Youth Choir, National Youth Jazz Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and regional youth orchestras and choirs. In recent years pupils have won instrumental scholarships to the major conservatoires and universities both here and abroad, and Oxbridge Choral and Organ Scholarships. Many are now working to the highest level within the music business themselves, as composers, conductors, singers, instrumentalists and song writers.
In May 2014 the College hosted the MMA music conference for teachers, during which a number of distinguished artists within the music profession worked with the children and music teachers from all around the UK.
The College offers music scholarships and exhibitions to pupils at 11+, 13+ and 16+ who show promise and ability at interview through a practical audition and written test. All music scholars follow a personal learning and monitoring programme which is designed and revised for them each academic year. They are expected to compile a personal portfolio and to perform in public at least once every term. There are currently 21 music scholars at St George’s.
Single staff accommodation may be available on site.