Welcome to the latest edition of Purcell’s Weekly Highlights!

Purcell Violinist Awarded Special Prize by AYM

We were thrilled to hear earlier this week that Year 8 violinist Kutay was awarded a special prize by the Awards for Young Musicians (AYM). The ‘Matthew Rye’ award, of which Kutay is the recipient, includes a financial contribution towards musical costs as well as access to the AYM’s programme of musical opportunities including workshops, online talks, careers advice, mentoring, performance opportunities, creative projects and much more.

Kutay studies at Purcell under violin teacher Alda Dizdari.

Well done, Kutay!


Purcell Student to Graduate in Ukraine

Year 12 cellist Ivanna, who joined Purcell this academic year, has not only been studying for her A Levels but also working towards her graduation examinations from the Ukrainian school system. Ivanna has been studying the curriculum independently online and, we are delighted to share the news that, next week she will be attending her graduation celebration in Ukraine and will receive her school leaving certificates.

When she returns to the UK, she will go on to take part in the NYO (National Youth Orchestra) residential course and play in the NYO BBC Proms concert on 5th August at the Royal Albert Hall. Ivanna will then go on tour with the Royal ConcertGebouwOrkest Youth – a symphony orchestra of young musicians from around the world based in the Netherlands – all before returning to Purcell in September for the new school year.

A huge well done to Ivanna. This is a true triumph and all at Purcell are incredibly proud of and for you. Enjoy your graduation!


Purcell Clarinettist Performs at Emma Johnson Masterclass

On 15th June, Year 11 clarinettist Birce was invited to attend a Masterclass with internationally acclaimed clarinettist Emma Johnson at Queenswood School. Birce performed Spohr’s Clarinet Concerto No.4, 3rd Movement and Stravinsky’s 3 Pieces, No.2 with accompanist Daniel Swain.

The event was arranged by the Hertfordshire Festival of Music and the festival’s Artistic Director, the composer James Francis Brown.

A recording of the masterclass is available below. Birce plays from 1:27:40.


Singers’ Soiree

On Tuesday 20th June, the Singers’ Soirée returned to the Recital Room for the first time since 2019! All first study singers – Sonya (Year 8), Solomiya (Year 10), Jessica (Year 12), Ciara (Year 12), Angelina (Year 13) and Tiana (Year 13) sang, as well as second study singer Dima (Year 10) and Suanoi (Year 11).

In addition to singing, Suanoi played the flute obligato in Angelina’s Bach aria and Dima accompanied Solomiya’s Mozart aria. They were also joined by Sofiia (Year 10) who played a violin obligato. Accompanying the bulk of the evening’s performances was Purcell’s accompanist Daniel Swain but he was ably assisted by Herman (Year 12) who played for Tiana’s solos.

The support of parents, fellow students and members of staff was most welcome.

National Association of Teachers of Singing Visits Purcell

Two weeks ago, the School was visited by a delegation from the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the US version of the UK’s Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS).

For the NATS visitors, Purcell’s Director of Music, Paul Hoskins, held a Performance Class in which Sonya (Year 8) sang a Mozart aria. This was followed by a scaled-back version of Voice teacher Tom Marandola’s Thursday Voice Class. Suanoi (Year 11), Angelina (Year 13) and Tiana (Year 13) all sang and were received rapturously by the delegates! As before Suanoi also played obligato flute in Angelina’s Bach aria and Debbie Shah, another of Purcell’s brilliant accompanists, accompanied all three on piano. The Class was followed by some brief feedback, as usual, and a short Q&A which was conducted in an atmosphere of warm mutual support.

Choral Conducting Masterclass

On Wednesday 21st June, we were delighted to welcome one of Britain’s foremost conductors, Alice Farnham to Purcell for a masterclass in Choral Conducting.

Alice Farnham is a professional conductor and the Artistic Director of Women Conductors which she co-founded in 2014, and we were so pleased that she was able to share her expertise and insight with our Choral Conducting teacher, Irina Walters, conducting students.

Two students who participated, Phoebe (Year 11) and Francesca (Year 13), have written their accounts of the masterclass to be shared here.

‘On Wednesday 21st June, the conducting students of Mrs Walters, participated in a masterclass with Alice Farnham. Seven opera choruses where performed; the Lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (Tiffany), the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen (Amanda), the Soliders’ Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore (Cole), Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges (Josh), the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore (Lyra), the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco (Jess) and the Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Phoebe). Special mention to the pianists Sam, Phoebe and Josh who played the orchestral parts, the wonderful soloists and the Purcell School Chamber Choir. What a privilege to work with Alice Farnham who gave us all valuable advice and feedback. Thank you so much to Mrs Walters for arranging the wonderful masterclass!’ Phoebe

‘This masterclass was a great experience for the choir as well! Not only did we have the chance to adapt to each conductor’s style, but also learned about the importance of being attentive to whatever (whether entries, dynamics or character) is being shown. Delving into a range of opera choruses was a really enjoyable opportunity that choirs are rarely afforded, not to mention the opportunity for several students to be able to conduct the choir. There was a lovely atmosphere around the whole event, tangible not only in the engagement of both choir and conductor in making beautiful music, but most of all in Alice Farnham, whose friendly, gentle manner and evident expertise encouraged great performances from all the student conductors. I know that I speak on behalf of everyone involved when I say that we would only welcome her back time and again for a masterclass such as this. We all thoroughly enjoyed the event and look forward to more visits in the future!’ Francesca

Our thanks to Irina Walters for hosting the masterclass, Director of Music Paul Hoskins for arranging the visit, Academic Music teacher Edward Longstaff for preparing the choir, and to Alice Farnham for giving her time and skill so willingly.