Aldenham School, Founded 1597

Hooray for House Music!

Our new Director of Music, Mr John Rayfield, said that although he has organised, attended and even adjudicated at many school music competitions elsewhere, the scale and intensity of the Aldenham event this week came as a surprise to him.

Everyone was blown away by each of the performances from the six houses entering the Solo, Ensemble, Part Song and House Unison competitions.

The adjudicator, David Hurley, recently retired from The King’s Singers and having been the 1st countertenor in the group for some twenty-six years, spoke with great authority and wisdom especially when (as he said) he was on the “home ground” of the vocal classes.

The winners of the Ensemble, Leeman’s, had a traditional rock band line-up of guitars and drums with the addition of a clarinet, and they were particularly inventive in their use of different styles in their version of The House of the Rising Sun. The Part Song was an arrangement in three parts of You Raise Me Up, which tested many areas of small group singing. The wining group, McGill’s, showed a remarkable sense of ensemble and focus, and displayed a wide variety of dynamics and phrasing in their interpretation. The Solo competition provided the greatest contrast of the day with pieces from Ed Sheeran to the violin virtuoso Fritz Kreisler. Toby Freeman from McGill’s was awarded the prize with a sensitive and musical performance of Cryin’ by Joe Satriani on the electric guitar, but special mention must also go to violinist Abigail James of Paull’s for her virtuoso performance Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois.

Martineau’s House, got the unison singing off to a flying start with One Brick at a Time from Barnum, thus ensuring that over the course of the evening every member of the school had performed from the stage.

The prize for the most emotional performance of the evening must go to Riding’s committed performance of My Way, marking their last ever performance as a boys’ house before they are dispersed to other houses at the end of this academic year to make way for the conversion of the house to a girls’ day house. A well-deserved standing ovation greeted their final bars. Even this was not enough though to sway the adjudicator, who awarded Paull’s the Unison trophy for the third year running with their spirited and polished performance of a medley of songs from the Sister Act films. Their conductor, Nevada Ross, suitably adorned in a nun’s habit was awarded the conductor’s prize for the evening.

It was a truly inspiring evening for all who were present.

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