During British Science Week 2017 all year 9 and 10 pupils took part in the Royal Society of Biology's Biology Challenge. Around 40,000 pupils took part in the Challenge which involved two online tests consisting of a vast array of biology based questions to stretch and trial the knowledge of the participants involved.
Seven pupils here at Purcell received certificates for their efforts and achievements on the test.
The Purcell School has recognised the work of Specialist Physiotherapist, Sarah Upjohn, in a pioneering new Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy.
Sarah Upjohn (Specialist Physiotherapist, Performing Arts Medicine) was employed at the School in 2008 to treat playing-related injuries in the pupils. It was clear that the majority of these injuries were preventable, and since 2011 Sarah has been working towards a Doctorate of Education at The University of Cambridge. Her work has been focused on the Prevention of Playing-Related Injuries in Young Musicians.
Deputy Head, Students, Chris Rayfield commented that she is 'delighted Sarah Upjohn’s extensive and ground breaking research into playing-related musculoskeletal injury prevention at the School has now been formalised as a new Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy.’
All parents and pupils are encouraged to look at the information, advice and guidance provided in the policy. It can be found here on the website.
Saturday 20th May saw the culmination of a very special recorder project. The event featured new pieces for recorder, written by young people and all inspired by a new concerto for recorder which is being written by the composer Graham Fitkin.
The project was a fascinating collaboration with the Royal Academy of Music's Junior Department (RAMJD). Beautiful, accomplished pieces by three Purcell School composers, Pablo Barrios, Asha Parkinson and Michael Temporal Darrell were performed alongside unfinished but very promising new pieces by RAMJD young composers. Purcell School performers included Heather Brooks (harp) Ivan Varchenko (saxophone) and Petar Jovanovic (guitar). It was a great privilege for the young players to be coached and supported by Carson Becke, former Purcellian composer/pianist, former RAM student and currently staff member at the Purcell School.
We would like to extend a special thanks also to Barbara Law, recorder teacher, to the many talented young people at the Purcell School and the RAM, who worked so hard to pull all the logistics together. Also to John Cooney, Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department/Yehudi Menuhin School, who worked so carefully with the young composers, and was so kind and complimentary towards the Purcellians, Graham Fitkin who showed such an interest in them all, and Josh Hagley, Purcell School Academic/Composition Assistant who supported the whole project so efficiently.
On 18th May 2017, Purcell pupil Asha Parkinson was one of twenty outstanding young people from across the world to be bestowed the inaugural Legacy Award in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. The award was presented by The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry as St James’s Palace, in recognition of Asha’s extraordinary project, Voices Beyond Division.
The Diana Award was established in memory of the late Princess, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. The twenty Legacy Award winners were praised for embodying Princess Diana’s ‘qualities of kindness, compassion and service’ and honoured for the ‘monumental impact’ they have had on society.
Asha’s ground breaking project, Voices Beyond Division, was conceived in response to the crisis in Syria. With hard work and dedication, she brought together three faith based primary schools (Jewish, Muslim and Catholic) to sing and perform a choral piece composed specifically for the project, 'What War', at a sold-out concert at St James’s Church in London.
The Legacy Award recognises Asha’s use of the positive power of music and words to break down cultural and religious barriers. She has said of the award that ‘it means a great deal, it’s so high profile and Princess Diana was a really positive person.’
For more information about Asha’s unique project and this very special award, please visit the Voices Beyond Division and The Legacy Award websites.
Lauren Marshall’s sublime six-minute work, ‘Linger in Light’, premiered at the 2017 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show to great effect and acclaim on Monday 22nd May.
The piece was scored for a string quartet, three wind players and two percussionists, and performed on the loggia of the stunning 2017 Morgan Stanley Garden by members of the National Youth Orchestra (NYO). It has been described by The Times as a ‘gently textured and delicately evocative’ work.
A Purcell pupil and the NYO’s principal composer, Lauren was commissioned by renowned plantsman, Chris Beardshaw, to compose a unique piece of music for the Morgan Stanley Garden. This represents an unprecedented fusion of music and gardening hitherto not experienced at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and showcases the Morgan Stanley Garden as the very first of its kind.
Chris Beardshaw explains that he has always had a strong feeling that ‘there must be a link between music and gardening’ as ‘both stimulate the emotions in the most phenomenal way.’ For her part, Lauren describes the collaboration as a ‘unique and exciting opportunity’ and one which has changed her perspective of gardens completely; ‘I have begun to see many connections between the two art forms, which has really shaped my composition for this event’.
The Morgan Stanley Garden is on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 23rd-27th May. ‘Linger in Light’ will now be played on speakers throughout the garden so that visitors can explore the space as designer and composer intended. Lauren’s piece is also available on the Morgan Stanley website.
The most recent of our Wigmore Hall performances took place on Saturday 22nd April. The recital featured the very best of our pupils and Senior Chamber groups. As with all Wigmore Hall performances, participants were selected via a thorough and careful audition process and delighted audiences with an eclectic hour-long programme of chamber works of various contrasting forces.
Having worked together all year it is no surprise that the audience was enamoured. One attendee commented "We were so privileged to see and hear such talented young people with such enthusiasm perform in this very special intimate venue – makes one feel almost part of the performance.” Another described the event as “superb . . . with a really delightful programme of music with wonderful performances from the members of The Purcell School. They performed with great aplomb and it was hard for me to believe they were students. They were very accomplished.”
The programme comprised movements from Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for wind quintet, Brahms Clarinet Trio Op. 114, Bernard Andrès Narthex for flute and harp, and York Bowen’s String Quartet No. 2, ending in a fantastic performance of Holst’s Hymns from the Rig Veda Op. 24 sung by a vocal octet, accompanied by harp.
An inspiring pupil-led initiative, The Well-Tempered Concert: Bach Reimagined, took place at The Purcell School on 1st May 2017.
Sixth Former, Joe Parks, worked tirelessly to arrange all of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues (Book 1) for different instrument combinations, and was supported generously by seventeen of his talented and dedicated peers who performed in the concert alongside him. Members of staff, students and Joe's family who were in attendance recognised the brilliance of his undertaking.
The concert was colourful, varied and meticulously organised from start to finish. It was especially interesting to see how Bach's keyboard works translated themselves to the timbres and technical characteristics of different instruments. The players found the pieces exciting yet challenging to rehearse, and their efforts were greatly admired by the modest but very appreciative audience.
Ms Cox, Head of Composition, and Mr Hathway, Head of Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Voice and Harp, were both thoroughly impressed with Joe’s effort and expressed their enthusiasm suggesting that the works 'deserve further performance' and hope that 'musicians from around the world hear about this project'.
Rehearsals of The Well Tempered Concert: Bach Reimagined
Heartfelt congratulations to Year 9 Purcell pupil, Kazusa Taniguchi, whose fanfare inspired by Mozart’s 'The Magic Flute' was one of ten winning compositions in The Royal Opera House (ROH) Fanfare 2017 composition competition.
Kazusa’s winning piece, which the panel praised for being ‘mysterious and cheeky’, was taken by proxy to the ROH by past Fanfare winner and Purcell Composition Department Assistant, Josh Hagley, where it was workshopped by composer Charlotte Bray, players from the Orchestra of the ROH, and students from the Masters in Composition programme at The Royal Academy of Music (RAM).
Kazusa, with the help of her Fanfare mentor, is now refining the work and will return in June 2017 to hear the piece come to life when played and recorded by the Orchestra of the ROH under the direction of Music Director and conductor Antonio Pappano.
Throughout the following season, recordings of the ten winning entries will be used nightly to call audiences into the performances.
Honourable mention must also be made of Year 7 Purcell pupil, James Perrin, who was shortlisted in the competition and whose piece, which was admired for being ‘lively in nature’ and was also inspired by 'The Magic Flute', was Highly Commended.
On 29th April 2017, the New World Symphony premiered the latest work by Purcell alumnus, Oscar Bettison, at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, USA.
The startling new score, ‘Lights in Ashes’, is an orchestral re-imagination of the seventh and final movement of Bettison’s earlier work, ‘O Death’, for ensemble and electronics from 2005-2007.
‘O Death’ was inspired by a folk song of the same name, and tells the story of a young man who pleads with Death not to ‘take him too soon’. A commercial recording of ‘O Death’ was released in 2010 and received critical acclaim.
The new piece, however, takes its title from the 1658 Sir Thomas Browne book Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Burial, and has now been arranged for 23 musicians and pre-recorded audio. ‘Lights in Ashes’ maintains the original chamber ensemble version but makes additions to the opening.
This is the first composition from Bettison to premiere since he was named a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in early April 2017.
Mali in Oak is the unforgettable new album from Purcell Alumnus and master Kora player, Tunde Jegede, and visionary guitarist Derek Gripper. It is also the third release from the innovative new record label, Globe Music.
A celebration of West African songcraft, Mali in Oak brings together two musicians – an African born in Europe and a European born in Africa – who are both trained in the Western classical tradition and yet enter into the realm of the griots and traditional bards of the Mande people of West Africa.
Globe Music is the recording company of Shakespeare’s Globe which celebrates special projects, concerts and performances, and creates an international platform for the finest live music created at the Globe. Mali in Oak was recorded in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in an intimate, candle-lit event, and the recording includes a variety of duets and solos, with modern interpretations of classics alongside new compositions.
The album’s Director of Music, Bill Barclay, commented that ‘This sparkling collaboration is particularly special to me as it’s connected so deeply to both tradition and innovation, a dialectic that is the heart of hearts at the Globe’.
The recording can be previewed here and purchased here.