Choirs, Bands and Orchestras

A wide variety of musical groups rehearse and perform regularly:  Symphony, Intermediate and Chamber Orchestras; School and Chapel Choirs; Show Choir; Choral Society; Chamber Music Groups; Ensembles for Strings, Brass, Flutes, Clarinets and Saxophones; Big Band, Stage Band, Jazz and Rock Bands.  The Chapel Choir, the Big Band and the Saxophone Ensemble have each produced CD recordings.

Our main annual concert takes place at Snape Maltings: recent performances have included Britten's Saint Nicolas and Alexander L'Estrange's Zimbe!, acclaimed by the composer himself as "superb".  The Chapel Choir has also joined forces with Woodbridge Choral Society in memorable performances at Snape Maltings of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius and Britten's Spring Symphony.

We have a popular annual music competition, and regular concerts provide invaluable performing experience and an opportunity for parents to meet instrumental teachers.  Small groups of pupils perform each week in local primary schools and care homes, while the Chamber Orchestra gives termly concerts in Suffolk churches.  Many of our performances, from lunchtime concerts to musicals, raise considerable sums each year for charity.  We also provide opportunities for local schools to send their pupils in for workshops with visiting musicians and on Friday 22 November 2013 we held a special event at which local schools were invited to join a performance of Friday Afternoons to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth.

The Chapel Choir sings Evensong in the school chapel, whose fine two-manual Father Willis pipe organ is also used for regular organ recitals.  The Chapel Choir sings at St Paul's Cathedral in London each year, while their annual tour has included recent residencies in Durham, Salisbury, Winchester and Wells Cathedrals, and visits to Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Italy.  Five new works have been commissioned in recent years by established and up-and-coming composers.  In November 2013 the Chapel Choir was invited to sing in the Britten Centenary Family Concert at Snape Maltings Concert Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which was broadcast live on Radio 3.  They sang a piece especially written for them by an Aldeburgh Young Musician, Jay Richardson. 

Orchestras, Ensembles and Choirs

Big Band

(Alternate Sunday evenings as advertised, 7.30 – 9.00pm in M1)
Run by our trombone teacher, Mr Paul Shepherd, this band often ventures into funky territory.  Do see one of the Music Faculty staff if you would like to be considered for joining the Big Band.

Brass Ensemble

(Thursdays 8.30 – 9am in M8)
The Brass Ensemble is open to all brass players and is run by our brass teacher, Miss Kay Dawson.

Chamber Orchestra

(Alternate Sunday evenings as advertised, 7.30-9.15pm in M8)
This select group meets by invitation only and performs both in the school and at local churches, usually putting on concerts to raise money for charity. The Chamber Orchestra meets on alternate Sunday evenings from 7.30 until 9.15 pm and is conducted by our strings teacher, Mrs Parry.  Recent repertoire has included music by Vivaldi, Purcell and Britten.

Chapel Choir

(Thursdays 4.20-5.20pm in M1/chapel, plus Fridays 1.40-2.15pm in M1/chapel)
There are auditions for the Chapel Choir, which is conducted by Mr Leach. The Chapel Choir sings at many school services a term, plus special events like the carol services, the Commemoration Service and joint services with St Mary-le-Tower church.  Pieces have recently been commissioned for us from the composers Robert Walker, Philip Moore and Ben Parry.  The choir has sung Evensong at most English cathedrals.  In the last few years we have been the resident choir at Salisbury, Winchester, Wells and Durham cathedrals.  In 2008 we toured Poland, in 2011 we toured Northern Germany and in 2013 we toured Tuscany, Italy.

Intermediate Orchestra

(Wednesdays 4.30-5.15pm in M1)
This is conducted by Mrs Steensma with help from Mrs Fran Messenger who looks after the strings section.

Saxophone Ensemble

(Mondays 4.15 – 5.15pm in M1)
The Saxophone Ensemble is run by our saxophone teacher, Mr David Abbott and is only for invited saxophone pupils - see Mr Abbott or Mr Leach.

School Choir

(Mondays 1.40-2.15pm in M1)
The School Choir is open to all members of the school. We don‘t have auditions, but welcome all who like singing. In the last few years the School Choir has performed  Alexander L'Estrange's Zimbe! and Poulenc's Gloria at Snape Maltings Concert Hall.  The School Choir is conducted by Mrs Lockyer.

Stage Band

(Fridays 4.15 - 5pm in M1)
The Stage Band is conducted by Mr David Abbott.  Our Stage Band gives the opportunity for all wind players who are Grade 3 standard and above to join an ensemble that plays with a swing.  The Stage Band also has a rhythm section and the band acts as a feeder band to the Big Band and Saxophone Ensemble.  Both of these bands are very popular and the Stage Band is the route towards membership of these ensembles. 

Symphony Orchestra

(Wednesdays 4.30-5.30pm in Great School)
The Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Mrs Lockyer.  Over the last few years we have given performances of Haydn’s Symphony no. 103, Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and music from Rosamunde, Verdi's Overture from Nabucco and Sebastian Black's Notturno. 

Various Chamber Ensembles/Bands

Various chamber ensembles and bands, including clarinet and flute ensembles, a piano trio and a string quartet, meet and rehearse and there is the opportunity for them to take part in the Music Competition and Chamber Music concerts.

Instrumental Lessons/Lockers

Lessons are available in a large number of instruments. Lockers are available for those who have instrumental lessons at the school or bring instruments to school for orchestras and other ensembles. Please see Mrs George, our Music Administrator, to ask for a music locker.

What else is on offer

Music Competition

This is held annually and is open to all members of the Senior School and to members of Year 6 in the Preparatory School. Classes for individuals and ensembles are held on five evenings after half-term in the Lent Term. Winners of the Beginner classes are presented with a certificate on the night of the competition and are invited to perform in the Beginner Winners’ Concert. Cups for Intermediate and Senior winners are awarded by the Headmaster at the end of the term and a Winners’ Concert takes place immediately after the competition.

Annual Festival of Music

World-renowned musicians perform in our Concert Hall, Great School, in the Michaelmas Term.  The line-up for 2013 included The British Paraorchestra, Joe Stilgoe, Voces8 and a family concert including Peter and the Wolf and a new piece by Ben Parry.  Previous stars have included Courtney Pine, Jazz by Dave Newton and Alan Barnes, Emma Kirkby, Julian Lloyd Webber, workshops by Stomp and many more.

Summer Music Course

Our Summer Music Course, held for four days towards the end of August, includes a number of our own pupils as well as pupils from other schools in East Anglia, and even further afield. Apart from orchestral and chamber music sessions there are daily recitals, a trip to London for a Proms concert, and a barbecue party. A final concert is given by the members of the course.