Music: Bede's Hosts Orchestral Day For Local Prep Schools
Just before half term, the Bede's Orchestra set down the mantle of students for a day to take up the role of teachers.
More than fifty students from four of the main prep schools in the Bede's area - Somerhill, Great Walstead, Handcross Park and our own Bede's Prep School - taken from Years 5-8, travelled to Bede's to participate in an Orchestral Day.
The purpose of this event was threefold: firstly, to give these talented young musicians a taste of the thrill and flair of playing in a full-sized orchestra; secondly, to show the full range of talents and facilities of the Bede's Music department; and thirdly, to give the students of the Bede's Orchestra the chance to take on the role of mentors and teachers for this new crop of musicians.
The day began at 9.30, as the Bede's students congregated in the Recital Room - site of our recent and very successful Jazz Evening - to meet their young charges.
The students arrived in great groups to a warm welcome from Head of Music, Miss Morris, Deputy Head of Music, Mr Scamardella and some eager Bede's musicians, some of whom - like myself - were eager to see the instruments that had come, just as much as the performers.
With the whole orchestra assembled by 10.00, we were welcomed by Miss Morris and the full scale of the orchestra was revealed: there were more than eighty musicians playing, including six cellos, a dozen trumpets and all manner of exotic instruments like bassoons, French horns and euphoniums - though I was most excited by having a fellow trombonist!
Even when we were tuning our instruments, we were awed by the weight of sound the roared through the room - the passionate notes of the strings, the sweet sounds of the woodwind, the clamouring roar of the brass, all were intensified by the magnitude of the orchestra and the quality of the musicianship.
Mr Scamardella, who conducted us with flair and aplomb throughout the day, led the rehearsal of our first piece, the traditional Sword Dance. The exotic strains and rushing pace of this peace put us all in mind of a dance that sped up and up, pulse pounding and hearts roaring, before we were brought up short by the sudden end.
Next, we practised Engines of Resistance by Larry King, a piece reflecting the nature of two machines working in opposition to each other. The exciting counter-melodies of this piece, only intensified by the wide range of skilled musicians lending their all to the music, left us all feeling uplifted - a sensation only increased by Handel famous Overture to the Royal Fireworks.
This third piece, though more technically demanding than the others, was the most satisfying of the three as in learning it there was a very real sense of accomplishment - this piece, after all, was included to give our young protégés a sense of all types of the music played by the orchestra, from the calming to the stirring.
Following this, the Juniors in the orchestra broke into sectional rehearsals, led by our talented Music Scholars and exceptional instrumental tutors, while the Seniors headed back to lessons!
We reconvened after lunch for a second rehearsal to fine tune what we had learnt in the morning's rehearsals and the sectional meetings, and here we were amazed by how quickly these young musicians - aided by the Bede's Music Scholars and teachers - had developed these pieces which they had been shown just a few short hours previously.
I was amazed by the skill and dedication they showed and, though there were teachers and Bede's students like myself distributed throughout the orchestra providing support, there was a very real sense that it was our guests who were leading the orchestra.
The end of the day was marked by a concert for the parents of the visiting students, which made for a satisfying close on all parts as the Juniors were able to see all the progress they had made, while the Bede's musicians were able to see first-hand the fruits of their labours.
Both parties separated on good terms, each feeling as if they had learnt something. I, for one, was enormously impressed by the dedication of the Juniors, and by the patience of the Seniors in guiding their young charges to make the best performance they could.
The next event in the Bede's music calendar is the Classical Concert on the 24th March, where you can see the talents of the Bede's musicians at the forefront.
The Bede's Music Department is an exciting place to be right now!