23 November 2022
A wide range of instruments and musical styles were on display, ranging from the Star Wars theme to Jimmy Hendrix’s Little Wing, Led Zeppelin’s Rock & Roll, by way of Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata. The adjudicator’s (Mr Melling and Mr Bond) had an unenviable task on their hands to select the overall winners and recipients of the Adjudicator’s Awards.
The competition was part of the Festival organised by Berkhamsted’s Music Department, which aimed to showcase and celebrate musical performance at the school, and offer pupils of all abilities the platform to perform in front of an audience. The Festival also saw a wide range of workshops for pupils take place, including Taiko Drumming, Steel Pans, Jazz Piano (which was led by leading Jazz musician Nikki Iles) as well as workshops for Big Band and an event for singers in Prep, Senior and Sixth Form with Pete Churchill (Professor of Jazz Composition at the Royal Academy of Music). These workshops offered pupils the chance to work with leading professional educators, directors and performers to develop their singing, playing, performing, creative, communication and ensemble skills.
The week also saw a number of Festival concerts which offered pupils in every year group, from Prep School to Sixth, the opportunity to gain valuable public performing experience in an informal and supportive setting, and featured over 120 performances. These opportunities not only allow pupils to develop musically through rehearsing and then performing their piece, but also encourage pupils to challenge themselves and develop mental preparation and resilience. Performances are not always expected to be perfect, and where necessary those involved showed great character by overcoming any challenges presented. Such experiences are not only valuable musically but also provide important life lessons.
The Festival – and the range of events on offer – also brought pupils from across the year groups and different schools together. This provided a real sense of community and it was wonderful to see the range of musical interests and abilities across the Berkhamsted Schools Group on display.
Singing or playing a musical instrument takes a great deal of hard work and dedication. Performing in front of an audience introduces an extra challenge, and it was clear that the pupils who took part in the Music Festival rose to that challenge in style, providing an excellent opportunity for pupils, parents and staff to see the young musicians developing at Berkhamsted. The Festival also allowed those young musicians to stretch and challenge themselves, and for all involved to be truly inspired by the professionalism and expertise shown by the leading musicians within our community, as well as allowing those young musicians to stretch and challenge themselves.
“The purpose of the annual Music Festival is quite wide. We are trying to create a community, give opportunities to students with little or no musical experience, give performance opportunities to those who play instruments, workshops that encourage and expand our students musical ability, experience and horizons. We also wish to give students, staff and parents the chance to hear the excellent quality of musicians we are helping generate here at Berkhamsted. Next year will be different. Watch this space!” – Mr Malcolm Melling, Head of Ensemble Music.