KES musicians open Stratford Music Festival
Ahead of musicians from King Edward VI School opening the Stratford Music Festival with a jazz performance at Cox's Yard tonight (Friday), the Herald caught up with a few of the talented students and the head of music, Deborah Madden.
Kirsty Fernie, 16, Year 12
I play violin and sing and am studying A-level music. I first started playing violin when I was five, and singing started a bit later. In the last couple of years I’ve really begun appreciating classical music.
I took to the violin straight away, it’s not necessarily always been easy but I’ve been motivated and stuck with it.
I’m at grade 7 and looking at doing the next grade.
I was at Stratford High before and I wanted to come here to do music A-level here.
This week I’m performing school choir, chapel choir and playing with the strings for the Michaelmas concert.
I like romantic music, and I’ve really got into classical via film scores; Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor is one of my favourite pieces of music.
Callum Maughan, 15, Year 11
I’ve been playing the French horn since Year 4. My family are all French horn players: my dad and my brother played it. We did an assembly where various instruments were presented and I just thought it looked really cool, I’ll try it. It’s unusual, so everywhere I go I’m the only French horn player – unless my older brother’s there! We are quite competitive – my brother’s at uni now and he still plays in the ensembles there.
I’d love to pursue music because I enjoyed it so much. I don’t just play the French horn, I play piano and sing. I am a singing scholar with the Armonico Consort.
There’s lots happening at the moment, I’m hoping to go to the jazz night at the Stratford Music Festival. I’m really looking forward to the organ recital at Holy Trinity too (26th November) – my organ teacher Douglas Keilitz is doing it, he’s very good. He’s American, and every lesson there’s a new phase I’ve not heard of. He’ll be like ‘This is a B3 Hammond!’ and then play a massive chord.
I’ve just started the organ – I thought it would be similar to the piano, but it’s quite different – there’s no sustain pedal so you can’t hold a note, you have to manipulate your fingers in crazy ways instead; it’s a totally new challenge playing with your hands and feet and changing the stops. It’s quite overwhelming.
My favourite music? This is going to sound a bit mad but I really like the music to Kung Fu Panda – it’s Hans Zimmer, and the film has a great message. The music is really good and diverse and really tells a story. I’m into Coldplay – I like the album Head Full of Dreams, and the last song on that is Up and Up, and that would be my Desert Island Disc that I would save from the waves. And Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, a classic of course.
Matt Robinson, 16, Year 12
Before coming to KES I played a bit of music at primary school – the steel pans actually, it was fun playing in a group. But other than that I’d not done anything else and couldn’t read music or anything. Then when I came here in Year 7 they had an open morning in the main hall with an array of instruments. I just picked up the tuba and found it easy to play at the start – basically I got it to make a noise. Anyway I chose the tuba and have stuck with it, I’m currently on Grade 5.
My favourite music to play is film music or popular tunes – I’m not the biggest fan of jazz. Kanye West is one of my favourite artists to listen to.
Deborah Madden, Director of Music at King Edward VI School
We have 350 students having music lessons at the moment. In addition we have strong numbers doing GCSE and A level, and we have 20-odd groups going on every week. It’s busy.
The secret of our success in encouraging students to take up music is that we are very well supported by the school and the community. Also every Year 7 boy has the opportunity to take part in a scheme where the school pays for the first term’s worth of lessons, it means it doesn’t just come down to economics. We have plenty of students who are still playing after being introduced through the opportunity of the scheme. We also organise a weekly ensemble for them to play in. It’s a good opportunity to play with others and learn from the older ones.
The Michaelmas concert today (Thursday, 7pm) showcases our senior ensembles: concert and string bands, and we have several choirs that are singing. There will be three A-level students who have the opportunity to perform a solo.
Myself and Dan Watson of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra are new trustees for the Stratford Music Festival, so we’re very much joining from the community. The idea is the festival will be more inclusive. KES is opening the festival at Cox’s Yard with our jazz band, Kerb (King Eddie’s Revival Big Band) also our saxophonist band and a few soloists will be playing. It’s great to be able to get out in the town and perform somewhere different.
Then Year 13 students are playing a soundbite concert at Holy Trinity on Wednesday lunchtime.
Douglas Keilitz is performing an organ recital at Holy Trinity, where he is musical director and he also teaches at KES – we have five organ students and he’s a great inspiration.