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.
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.
RSA has been awarded the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Bronze certificate in GCSE music in recognition of its high percentage of students taking GCSE Music and achieving A*-C grades in the summer of 2015. Across England, 3066 schools (including private and state schools) entered students for GCSE Music in 2015 and RSA were in the top 20% of these schools in that more than 10% of our entire Year 11 cohort were entered for GCSE Music and achieved an A*- C.
RSA are very proud to have been awarded this accolade. Music students at Robert Smyth have long achieved the highest grades with over 90% A*-C pass rate year on year, and our high uptake of more than 10% of the cohort in this subject at GCSE, compared to the national average of 6.8 %, has enabled us to gain national recognition for this. Hundreds of students across the school are involved in musical clubs, ensembles and concerts on a regular basis, and we look forward to even more of them furthering their learning in Music through taking GCSE and A Level in the future.
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.
Richard Meyrick, an internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist, visited Robert Smyth Academy on Wednesday 23rd February to give a 2-hour piano workshop to a group of GCSE and A level music students. Richard studied at the Royal College of Music and made his concert debut at the Wigmore Hall while still a student. This was followed by a live televised performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.2 conductor by Sir Adrian Boult. Throughout his career he has given many concerts with leading orchestras throughout the world and also recorded Beethoven’s five Piano Concerti and the complete Chopin Nocturnes.
This piano workshop was part of a national programme entitled Pianoman which was set up in 2004 to encourage and nurture talented young pianists; the programme, sponsored by Sir Harvey and Lady Allison McGrath, has enabled Richard to visit over 400 schools in the UK over the past 12 years. This is the fifth time since 2004 that Robert Smyth has been lucky enough to benefit from one of Richard’s workshops.
Five pianists from years 10 to 13 performed in the workshop with many more GCSE and A level music students watching. At the start Richard gave an impressive performance on the piano and then each of the five players performed a short piece, with difficulty ranging from Grade V to VIII. After each performance Richard gave feedback to the student pianist, providing advice on a range of playing techniques.
Richard also posed challenging questions to the students about their interpretations of the music and how they should approach playing every piece. He helped both those performing and those watching to see that it is important to consider why the composer wrote the music in a certain way, why it’s important to remain faithful to the composer’s instructions and intentions whilst still showing your own personal interpretation of the music. Richard gave the students invaluable advice and help which made it an inspiring and unforgettable experience for everyone involved.
The Max staging was up in it’s familiar pattern, the chairs were all laid out, the lighting was simple yet effective and the sound equipment was all working to begin with; it could only mean one thing. The second GCSE Music Concert of the year was about to happen, and oh boy, was it eventful!
We had 21 different acts performing on the evening and we crammed it all in under 2 hours! The quality of the performances, as always, was superb and we had styles ranging from Britpop, to acoustic, to musical songs, to jazzy flute pieces to Cello concertos.
Notable stand out performances were:
- Mae Dudley was on top form producing two stunning vocal performances throughout the night.
- Adam Pugh also delivered another tenor masterclass by blasting out a Billy Joel classic accompanied by our very own, Mrs Petersen.
- Sejal Assan once again wowed everyone with a lovely Flute piece.
- We had two class performances from the same year 10 AQA classs. The class was split in half with one half performing ‘Don’t look back in anger’ and the other half performing ‘Wonderwall’ giving the evening an Oasis sandwich as one group started the concert and the other group ended it. Considering we gave them only ten days to get this together, it was a really great performance.
- Lola Pap, Bronwen Herdman and Amirah Bobat all produced their usual high standard of exquisite vocal solos.
- Bronwen and Lola even teamed up with Daryanne Scott to produce a superb three part harmony performance of ‘Wherever you will go’, much to the crowds delight!
- Daryanne also performed ‘Fast Car’ accompanied by Charles Witcombe, and it was a great interpretation of the classic by Tracy Chapman.
- Zoe Bates performed her very first public solo performance on her flute.
- Lachlan Lindsay left the crowd wanting more after Mrs Petersen had finally persuaded him to perform a Cello solo in a GCSE Concert. Lachlan’s touch, intonation, use of vibrato and all round excellent musicianship was on display as he played an ‘Andantino’ movement from a Romantic period Cello Concerto, accompanied by his mother, Jane Parker.
The night was full of technical faults, which we’ve never had on such a scale in over twelve years of doing concerts at Robert Smyth, so unfortunately some acts weren’t quite as confident as they could have been, as mic’s, amps and cables all broke seemingly at random. But that’s the nature of the GCSE Music Concert and live music in general, it does and can happen like that at times, but our students coped with it all admirably and with professionalism.
Videos can be found here on our youtube channel:
The next Robert Smyth Music concert will be our annual ‘Spring Concert’ on Wednesday 23rd March featuring all of the academy extra-curricular ensembles and 6th form soloists. Tickets for this event are available from the academy priced at £5 and £3. We hope to see you there!
Thursday 15th October saw the return of our GCSE Music Concert series. Featured as part of the Academy’s ‘Arts week’, the concert saw a packed out Max enjoy an eclectic mix of styles and performances. This concert saw a first for the GCSE Music Concerts; we began with a class performance from a year 10 class. This is the first time this has happened at the first concert of the year! The class was our Edexcel class performing one of the set works they study, ‘All Blues’ by Miles Davis. This is a complex piece featuring heavily extended chords and containing improvisation at its core. Our improvised soloists in the performance were Tarran Mann and Charlie Hilton on Piano, who also both performed solos on piano later in the concert. Elsewhere in the programme we had Abi Wright perform a solo on French Horn. Hope Haynes-Coote, Emily Moore and Sejal Assan all performed Flute solos. We had a rock band featuring Matt Moir, Kieran King, James Dixon-Boarder and Adam Pugh, perform ‘Seven Nation Army’. Holly Barnett performed a saxophone solo as Rebecca Alder performed a piano solo. We had a variety of excellent solo singers performing including, Mae Dudley, Lola Pap, Bronwen Herdman, Ella Soyza, Adam Pugh, Ben Maclean and Amirah Bobat. The crowd were a great mix of students and parents/family members and they responded with great encouragement and applause for our performers throughout the evening.
Photos of the event can be found on the academy website here.
Ofsted recognised all the excellent work in Performing Arts in their recent report when they visited the academy in March. Here are some of the quotes from the report:
‘Many members of staff make valuable contributions to the academy’s excellent extra-curricular programme, particularly in performing arts and sport.’
‘The curriculum and, in particular, the academy’s excellent extra-curricular provision, make good contributions towards students’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural development and prepares them well for life in modern Britain. The academy’s performing arts and sports programmes are well-regarded by students, parents, staff and the local community. The academy has several systems in place that encourage first-hand understanding of the principles of democracy, such as the house system and the councils established to oversee the sport and performing arts activities.’
‘Students value opportunities for charity fund-raising, participation in music, dance and sport.’
‘GCSE: When taken as a whole year group, students perform much better than their peers nationally in music. Achievement is very good overall in this area.’
‘Sixth Form: Very good progress was made in several subject areas, including music and music technology.’