18 October 2018
The Downe House Music Department’s mission is to inspire and nurture musical talent, not only within the School but also extending opportunities to Prep School musicians from across the UK. This year’s Prep Schools’ Orchestral Fun Day brought together a total of 169 boys and girls from 18 Prep Schools and a group of 19 Remove girls and two Lower Fourth Music Scholars from Downe House for an unsurpassed day of musical fun.
The theme of the day was ‘Under the Sea’ and from the start, it was clear that the children loved the theme of the event – the orchestra became the Seven Seas Symphony Orchestra and the ensembles were aptly named the Coral Reef Concert Band, Submarine Strings and the Pacific Maestros. The staff entered into the fun changing their names for the day – the children particularly enjoyed Mrs Jellyfish and Mr Tuna!
The children spent the day in rehearsals from full orchestral rehearsals to large and small instrumental group rehearsals all with specialist tuition from the Downe House Music staff. The Submarine Strings kept us afloat with the famous ‘Air’ from Handel’s water music and the Coral Reef Band conjured up the soothing sounds of the ocean waves with ‘Wind of the Waves’. The Pacific Maestros comprised a small group of advanced players who were invited to join the Downe House Symphony Orchestra for a symphonic Caribbean extravaganza involving lots of pirates and highlights from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
Downe House girls helped to make the day run smoothly with the Music Award Holders and Senior Musicians acting as buddies for the Masterclass Musicians nominated to join the Pacific Maestros. A group of 19 girls in Remove, who only joined the School in September, stepped up to become Music Ambassadors for the day and took part in the orchestra and ensembles alongside the Prep School musicians.
The day culminated in a concert to which all parents were invited to attend which opened with the premiere performance of ‘Land A’hoy!’ which was written by Dr Christian Alexander, Head of Composition at Downe House especially for the Orchestral Fun Day.
Director of Music, Dr Charlotte Exon (aka Dr Dolphin for the day) said, “My thanks to all the staff from our visiting Prep Schools who clearly do such inspirational work with their young musicians which has been so evident in the musical fun we have had today. It is always so inspiring to work with so much talent and to enjoy their enthusiasm for all things musical – and this year has been no exception. I would like to congratulate all of our performers for their fun, energy and musicianship. We have travelled the oceans and ventured deep under the sea enjoying a full day of rehearsals and experiencing different types of ensembles and rehearsals. The concert was an uplifting and tremendously enjoyable musical extravaganza and it was clear that all the children very much enjoyed being part of such a large orchestra. Bravissimo!”