On Sunday, 6th March Soul Patrol took part in the Music for Youth Regional Rock, Pop and Urban Festival at the Mac in Birmingham.
Music for Youth is the largest music festival in the UK. Over 60 regional festivals are held throughout the country during February and March each year featuring about 1600 groups and over 20,000 young people from primary school age up to the age of 21. Both instrumental and vocal ensembles of all sizes and musical styles can enter the festival. There are no ‘winners’ but each group receives written and oral feedback on the day from two music mentors who are themselves professional musicians. Although it is not a competition as such, there is the chance to progress from the regional festival through to the next stage. From the 1600 groups that have performed in the regional festivals across the country about 330 will be chosen for the National Festival in July and from there about 30 groups will be chosen for the Schools’ Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in November.
Members of Soul Patrol had written new original songs especially for this festival. Pianist Taylor Burton had written two contrasting songs, ‘The Funk’ (with lyrics by singer Ellis Barthorpe) and ‘Naïve’, whilst guitarist Jake Cartwright had composed a third original ‘Rhythm & Music’ with lyrics by singer Georgia Whittle. The band received superb feedback from the adjudicators who were very impressed with the quality of the song writing as well as the performance itself. We will now have to wait until the end of May to find out whether the band will progress to the national festival in Birmingham in July.
Soul Patrol will be performing these three new original songs in the academy’s Spring Concert on Wednesday 23rd March so please come along to hear the real premiere of them then. Videos of the Music for Youth performance will appear here after the Spring Concert.
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!
The RSA Dance Company were selected from audition to perform at the regional youth dance event Mass Movement 2016 taking place in a public performance at Curve Theatre on February 7th. The event is organised by U Dance and Dance4 to recognise and celebrate dancers from across the country. The RSA Dance Company performed their piece ‘Yan Tu-In a State of Motion’. The inspiration for the piece was to explore the idea of motion being as continuous as breathing but with short punctuations of stillness. The duet work explored the ceaseless and fluid action of the breath and the music emphasised the dynamic moments of stillness. Taylor Burton, our Year 13 music student created a beautiful and original piece of music for the company to work with and it inspired us to create some amazing work.
The company shared the stage with Curve Dance Company, Studio 79, Addict Dance, Melton College and Leicester College amongst others, so it was a real achievement for our academy to be chosen to perform for the show. The students attended the theatre at 10am on Sunday 7th and took part in two workshops with Jen Manderson a Contemporary choreographer and Gareth Woodward who specialises in urban dance. The afternoon was spent performing in a dress rehearsal where each company had the chance to watch each other and see the high standard of dance before the 7.30pm evening performance. The event was attended by over 450 audience members and the students had a really positive experience from taking part. Here is what some of the company members thought:
“It was amazing, I loved performing our dance” Charlie Tatman
“What a fantastic day, it was so much fun” Alice Benstead
“What a great way to spend a Sunday, dancing all day” Lottie Edwards
All of the students did an amazing job, so congratulations and well done to them all!!!
Here’s a video of the performance…..
And some photos of rehearsals in RSA Main Hall……
Congratulations to RSA Dance Company
The RSA Dance Company has been selected to perform by UDance in Mass Movement 2016. This is a regional showcase of performers who have to audition to a panel of professionals artists who then choose the best companies to perform.
This is a fantastic achievement for Robert Smyth dancers as we are only one of two state schools to have been selected out of ten places. We will be performing alongside Studio 79 and Curve Dance Company!
Mass Movement is on Sunday 7th Feb at 7.30pm and tickets are currently available from the Box office at Curve theatre here.
This is the routine that they will be performing!
RSA Christmas Concert
The annual RSA Christmas Concert was held on Tuesday 1st December in the Main Hall to a full house. The concert featured all 11 academy ensembles: String Ensemble, Advanced Brass Group, Flute Ensemble, Flute Quartet, Saxophone Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Versatile Voices Choir, Folk Group, Big Band, Jazz Band and Soul Patrol. In addition the AS Music class performed one of their set AS analysis pieces ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ by Jimmy Cliff. There were a number of A level soloists and small group items that had been chosen through audition: AS Music student and pianist Andrew Martin’s highly expressive and technically flawless performance of Debussy’s Clair de Lune was a real highlight of the evening. A2 Music student Georgia Whittle also impressed with her vocal performance of Finding Wonderland, arranged for strings, brass and rhythm section by her and Jake Bentley. The piano trio, featuring Lachlan Lindsay, Emily Newlyn and Andrew Martin, also produced a highly polished and professional performance whilst a Year 12 band featuring Ellis Barthorpe, Will Ashley, Bryn Williams, James Milsom and Ross Barnett entertained with one of their original songs.
The Programme for the concert can be viewed here
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)
“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.
On Friday 27th November the Jazz Band and Soul Patrol had been invited by Harborough Council and HFM to perform at the annual Christmas Light Switch-On Event in the Main Square. There were various primary schools performing from 4.00 pm whilst Soul Patrol was the Headlining act, performing from 5.45 pm – 6.20 pm with the Light Switch-On taking place at 6 pm. It was the band’s first public performance this academic year and they were very well received by the organisers and the general public. Unfortunately the rain started pouring down very heavily during the Soul Band set and the Jazz Band could therefore not perform for health and safety reasons.
We have released our most recent Performing Arts Newsletter!
The Performing Arts newsletters detail everything we have done in the faculty over the last term.
The latest edition can be downloaded or viewed here.