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Big Band

Xmas Concert 2016

xmas-concert-2016-poster

Tuesday 29th November sees the return of our annual Xmas concert. This year is a special concert because we will be celebrating the support and commitment of our Chair of Governors, Max Corney, as he steps down after 28 years in the role.

Tickets are available now from Student Services priced £5 and £3. They normally sell out, so get yours now!

The concert will start at 7pm in the Main Hall and feature all of the Academy ensembles, including our new year 7 choir and jazz band, the AS Music class and other A level soloists.

RSA Performing Arts Newsletter

RSA Newsletter

 

It’s been a crazy, hectic and frighteningly busy few weeks back! But fear not though, we have managed to thrash together another Performing Arts newsletter reflecting on the “goings on” in the faculty during the last summer term.

Massive congratulations to all of our examination students who have achieved some of our best ever results and keeping us firmly at the top of the county in terms of results overall. Well done everybody involved….. together we are keeping creativity alive and kicking.

Please download the latest copy here sep-2016-rsa-perf-arts-newsletter

We’ve had to keep the issue shorter this time (8 pages) due to a short fall in sponsorship. A massive “thank you” goes to the Market Harborough and Bowdens Charity who are supporting us this year as we search for a more permanent sponsor for the newsletter.

A huge “thank you” too to former student Ava Forbes who has given us hours of her time in compiling this edition.

 

Big Band at Music for Youth National Festival

MFY big band 2016

On Friday 8th July, just 24 hours after returning from the Barcelona tour, the RSA Big Band performed at the Music for Youth National Festival at Birmingham Town Hall.

The band played 3 pieces: ‘What Were You Thinking’, ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘Back to the Basement’.  They performed extremely well and received some excellent feedback from the adjudicators.

Getting through to the National Festival is a big achievement as only 300 groups of the 1600 groups who performed in the Regional festivals nationwide were put through. From the 300 groups that performed at the National Festival just 30 will be chosen for the Schools’ Proms in November. We will have to wait till August to see if the Big Band is amongst the chosen ones.

Well done to all the performers (soloists indicated with a *):

 

  • Andrew Martin* – flute
  • Natalie Crook*, Jane Earland & Alice Riches – alto saxes
  • Esme Butler Davies* & Kim Jeffs – tenor saxes
  • Holly Barnett – baritone sax
  • Molly Sykes*, Sophie Burleigh, Maddie Oakland, Josh Watson – trumpets
  • Joe Horspool* & Tom Jenkins – trombones
  • Taylor Burton* – piano
  • Jake Cartwright* – guitar
  • Jake Bentley – bass guitar
  • Jonny Nicholson – drum kit
  • Lyle Burton – auxiliary percussion

To listen to the performance, please click on the uploaded files of the three pieces which were:

 

 

 

  • ‘Back to the Basement’ by Erik Morales, featuring Taylor Burton (piano), Andrew Martin (flute) and Jake Cartwright (guitar)

NCBF; a parents perspective

Young people and teachers: both seem to get a bad press these days. So, early one Saturday morning, I began to wonder how I’d managed to allow myself to volunteer, as a parent helper, for a school trip. Surely there are better ways to spend the first full day of a weekend, especially one still in the Easter school holidays. And what was the teacher thinking? Could this be more important than a well-earned rest before term got underway again?

 

The National Concert Band Festival (NCBF) has been running for over 30 years and has grown to include 120 bands representing 5,000 players who all start their journey in five Regional Festivals in England and Scotland. From there the best bands go forwards to the two-day National Festival with almost 2,500 participants and 1,000 supporters in attendance – the largest gathering of wind musicians in the UK.

 

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The Robert Smyth Academy Big Band had reached the 2016 final at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester through the Midlands qualifying Festival in November last year. With such stiff competition from more than 20 schools on the Saturday alone, how would the 17 young musicians fare?

 

After the three-hour coach journey, the band had time to settle in, grab some food and get set up in their practise room. Mind you, snaking our way along corridors, up and down stairs, across food halls with instruments aloft, somehow the line got broken and the two halves of the band ended up in different places!

 

But this band had spirit, grit, determination and high expectations. Directed by the able Helle Petersen, they soon settled into their stride as they worked through their three numbers ahead of their main stage appearance in the early afternoon.

 

In jazz music, so I learnt, the rhythm section is particularly important, providing the rhythmic reference for the rest of the band. So, no pressure then Taylor Burton on keyboard, Jacob Bentley on bass, Jake Cartwright on electric guitar and Lyle Burton and Jonny Nicholson on drums / percussion. The question was how well they ably accompanied the rest of the instrumentalists – with their trumpets, saxophones, trombones and flutes.

 

What made the Festival different this year was the way feedback was provided. After their performances before an appreciative audience, one of the two adjudicators, both distinguished personalities from the world of jazz, got onto the stage. He provided what can only be described as a masterclass, getting the band to re-run one of their numbers and highlighting areas for improvement. At times it bordered on the cruel, but this Festival was about people moving to the top of their musical game, so standards were high.

 

NCBF

By late afternoon the drama moved to the presentation of awards on the Upper Concourse where hordes of students gathered to hear their fate. It was with a mixture of relief and delight that Taylor Burton and Jacob Cartwright collected the Gold Award on behalf of The Robert Smyth Academy Big Band.

 

Throughout the day the students were a credit to their school, their teacher and their parents. They are clearly a talented bunch who will go on to greater things in the field of music – whether as a hobby, to study or a career. If you are a parent reading this, then I’d highly recommend you take time out of your busy schedule to go as a parent helper on any one of the many music trips run from the school. You won’t be disappointed.

 

By Mr. Nicholson

Next Year’s Midlands Regional Festival is on Sunday 27 November 2016 at Nottingham High School

Gold for the Big Band in Nationals

Gold Certificate scan from NCBF Final Big Band 2016

Many congratulations to the RSA Big Band who achieved a Gold Award at the finals of the National Concert Band Festival held at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester during the Easter holidays.  This is an excellent achievement especially considering several of the players were new to the band this term as some regular members couldn’t make the finals.  In their 15-minute programme the band performed three pieces featuring no less than 6 different soloists, all marked with * in the list below.

 

Well done to all the players:

 

  • Andrew Martin* – flute
  • Natalie Crook* and Alice Riches – alto saxes
  • Emily Moore – tenor sax
  • Holly Barnett – baritone sax
  • Molly Sykes*, Maddie Oakland, Josh Watson, Leo Harland – trumpets
  • Joe Horspool* & Tom Jenkins – trombones
  • Taylor Burton* – piano
  • Jake Cartwright* – guitar
  • Jake Bentley – bass guitar
  • Jonny Nicholson – drum kit
  • Lyle Burton – auxiliary percussion

 

Spring concert programme

On Wednesday 23rd March, the penultimate day before the Easter holidays, we staged our annual Spring Concert to a packed hall. The concert featured A level Music soloists as well all the academy ensembles: String Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Year 10-12 Flute Ensemble, Year 13 Flute Quartet, Saxophone Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Versatile Voices Choir, Folk Group, Big Band, Jazz Band and Soul Patrol. In addition year 13 violinist Emily Newlyn gave a mesmerizing performance from memory of Josef Suk’s ‘Appassionato’ from ‘Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Opus 17’.  Our other 6th form soloists of the evening was year 12 vocalist Ellie Boxall who performed a cover of Adele’s ‘When We Were Young’ very convincingly accompanied by rhythm section and strings in an arrangement by AS Music student Madeleine Oakland.

In the second half the Versatile Voices Choir put on a memorable performance of the traditional spiritual ‘Steel Away’, arranged by Mark De-Lisser, featuring year 11 GCSE Music students Amirah Bobat, Lola Pap and Bronwen Herman as soloists. At the end of the second half Soul Patrol showcased three of their new original songs written for the Music for Youth Festival recently.

Leavers concert tickets

Leavers concert 2016

Our last concert of the year is fast approaching and it promises to be a cracker!

The Leavers Concert features only year 13 musicians and is always filled with very high quality performances. This year features Emily Newlyn playing the 1st movement of Mozarts’ 3rd Violin concerto with a chamber orchestra.

The concert is on Friday 20th May in the Max and starts at 7pm. Tickets are available from students services priced at £5 for adults and £3 for under 19s.

Platinum for the Big Band – again!

NCBF platinum

Many congratulations to the RSA Big Band who achieved a Platinum Award at the Midlands regional round of National Concert Band Festival held at Nottingham High School on Sunday 15th November.  This is an outstanding achievement especially considering that more than half of the players are new to the band this term and this was therefore their first public performance with the Big Band.  In their 15-minute programme the band performed three pieces which featuring no less than 7 different soloists, all marked with * in the list below.

 

The two adjudicators, who are both professional jazz musicians themselves, were very impressed with the band – see comments below; for a full adjudication report you can also click on the uploaded files below.

 

As the band achieved the top award they have been invited to the National Festival which takes place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th April.  Well done to all the players for their fantastic achievement:

 

  • Andrew Martin* – flute
  • Alex McCarthy* & Jane Earland – alto saxes
  • Esme Butler Davies* & Emily Moore – tenor saxes
  • Holly Barnett – baritone sax
  • Molly Sykes*, Maddie Oakland & Josh Watson – trumpets
  • Joe Horspool* & Tom Jenkins – trombones
  • Taylor Burton* – piano
  • Jake Cartwright* – guitar
  • Jake Bentley – bass guitar
  • Jonny Nicholson – drum kit
  • Lyle Burton – auxiliary percussion

 

 

To listen to the performance, please visit our Academy website for the time being  here.

 

  • ‘What Were You Thinking’ by Chris Sharp, featuring Esme Butler Davies (tenor sax) and Joe Horspool (trombone)

 

  • ‘My Funny Valentine’ by Richard Rodgers arr. Mike Smukal, featuring Molly Sykes (trumpet) and Alex McCarthy (alto sax)

 

  • ‘Back to the Basement’ by Erik Morales, featuring Taylor Burton (piano), Andrew Martin (flute) and Jake Cartwright (guitar)

 

 

Adjudicators’ Feedback:

 

“What Were You Thinking”

 

Confident opening. Nice balance and good sound in each section. Good dynamics and intonation.

Nice tenor solo. Great sound. Just be careful backings don’t slightly overpower solo. Good trombone. Nice sound and solo comes across well.

Nice to hear a baritone sax!

Good feel to the rhythm section. Nice feel all the way through. Well played. Good sounding band.

 

“My Funny Valentine”

 

Be careful with intonation in the introduction. Lovely sound from the trumpet. Very nice. Band could maybe play a touch quieter so the solo doesn’t get overpowered. Nice sax solo. I would suggest taking the band (ensemble) dynamics down one notch to play with soloist. Nice feel to bossa nova. Again watch dynamics. Lovely playing all the way through from soloist. Very nice.

 

“Back to the Basement”

Nice start with a good sound. Sax section plays well. Nicely in tune. Good section playing from trumpets of the melody too.

Nice piano solo. Some lovely touches.

Great to have a flute solo!! Good sound, well played.

Nice guitar. Well played all solos. Good build to bring solo section to an end. Great sounds from every section. An exciting and well played performance. Well done everyone.

NCBF Adjudication Comments