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Small steps and giant leaps: musicians demonstrate their prowess at space-themed concert

QE’s younger musicians turned out en masse for the School’s summer concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

In a very varied programme that ranged across the genres from traditional Indian classical and western classical to jazz and pop, the boys explored mankind’s enduring fascination with the moon, featuring a number of space-related pieces.

These included the Beethoven composition widely known as the Moonlight Sonata, performed by Year 8 pianist John Zhen, and the popular early 20th-century song, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, played by the Sinfonietta, as well as the Summer Strings’ performance of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, which was played at President Kennedy’s funeral in 1963, six years before his moon-landing vision was fulfilled.

The Brass Ensemble played an arrangement of Debussy’s beautiful Clair de Lune, while the School Choir sang Moondance, the jazz-infused title track on Van Morrison’s third album, released in 1970.

In a speech, Headmaster Neil Enright alluded to astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous comment on setting foot on the lunar surface that it was “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

“This ‘one small step for a man’,” he told the audience of parents and other guests, “was, in fact, the last of a very long series of small steps, taken over a period of time, to make that last one possible. And the small steps forwards you take with something now can all add up to a giant leap in the future, or at least lay the foundations for future progress and achievement.”

Acting Director of Music Jennifer Brown said: “We had more than 200 boys taking part – an impressive number considering that it was exam season, so all of Years 11 and 13, and almost all of Year 12, were unavailable.

“Our singers were on excellent form, performing all their pieces by heart, including the 95-strong School Choir – very ably accompanied on the piano by Shivas Patel, from Year 10. Among the high points were the B Minors’ barbershop group’s singing of Don McLean’s Vincent and Smash Mouth’s All Star.“

Mrs Brown also highlighted other aspects of the concert in the Shearly Hall including the collaboration between two different ensembles, the Sinfonietta and Flute Ensemble to perform Moon River, “very professionally directed” by Music teacher Hannah Morgan.

“The Concert Band includes some of our least experienced musicians, and they did really well to perform some challenging repertoire from Star Wars,” Mrs Brown added.

Year 10’s Raphael Herberg was “an absolute star! He directed the Celli beautifully and arranged the music, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, too.”

“String Quartet is another example of an ensemble brilliantly led by pupils themselves. Whilst the Shostakovich [String Quartet No. 8] did not link to our space theme, it was great for the boys to have the opportunity to perform it to a large audience in preparation for the prestigious South East Schools’ Chamber Music Competition they will be entering in the Autumn Term.

Other “super in-house arrangements to best suit our performers” included that by visiting saxophone teacher Maria Payne. She arranged Black Hole Sun – the 1994 hit by American rock band Soundgarden written by frontman Chris Cornell – for the Saxophone Quartet.

The Telugu lyrics of the piece performed by the Junior Indian Ensemble implore Lord Krishna, “Please come my lord Venugopala”. The popular composition, using the carnatic raga Bilahari, is one of the early compositions that children learn when they start carnatic music lessons.

There was even a surprise performance by one ensemble, Friday Jazz, who were not listed in the printed programme. “We didn’t think that they would manage to get here as so many of their group had been away on trips, but they made it and performed Fly Me to the Moon.”

New QE Music School to go ahead after Government approves funding

Work on a state-of-the-art new Music School will begin this summer, following Department for Education approval of QE’s funding application.

The multi-million pound project can now be brought forward, enabling QE to offer a host of additional facilities to its young musicians even sooner than expected.

Site works will start with the demolition of the Mayes Building. Construction of the new block itself should begin in 2020, while the School expects the new building to be opened for use in the following academic year.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Music is flourishing here: we currently have more than 20 different ensembles and some 160 boys singing in the Choir. So, I am delighted to be able to announce an early go-ahead for this important project, which will provide essential support for the Music department.

“The Music School is the next stage in an ambitious long-term estates strategy through which we aim to offer the Elizabethans of today and tomorrow access to the finest facilities for both academic and extra-curricular activities.”

The purpose-built complex in the heart of the School will feature a new performance venue and a number of much-needed teaching and rehearsal rooms. These will be larger than the existing Music facilities and will all be fully equipped to the very latest standards.

In addition, the two-storey building will provide additional assembly space to accommodate our lecture programme, as well as a covered atrium for boys to use at break times.

The DfE package includes a £1.4m grant and a £700,000 loan. The success of the application to the Government would not have been possible without substantial financial support from the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s.

“Further support from the Friends, including via the Giving to QE scheme, will be necessary over the coming months and years to complete the building and fully equip it to a high standard,” said Mr Enright.

QE’s estates strategy has transformed the fabric of the School since the mid-1990s, backed by FQE support.

Major developments have included: the technologically advanced Martin Swimming Pool; the large, multi-purpose Shearly Hall, and the extensive complex opened in 2014 in the centre of the campus that includes The Queen’s Library, the Dining Hall, Café 1573 and a Food Technology Suite.

“We have commissioned durable, high-quality architecture for the Music School that will complement the modern, attractive design of these earlier projects and thus help to create an educational environment that is not only practical and efficient, but also aesthetically attractive,” Mr Enright concluded.

• Updates on the project’s progress will be provided here.

QE lays foundation for Richard’s flourishing film-scoring career

Richard Collins is now an award-winning composer writing bespoke music for film, TV and games, with his first musical release and collaboration with Universal’s Aurora Production Music label just out.

Yet, if it had not been for the sage advice he was offered by a teacher when in the Sixth Form, it could all have been very different.

Richard (OE 2005–2012) originally planned to study Law at university. “Although I really struggled to write my personal statement, I managed to get something together and got ready to send off my applications.

“It was only when I gave my personal statement to Mr Hargadon [Liam Hargadon, currently Head of Politics] that he made me realise I was heading in completely the wrong direction.

“Writing my personal statement to study Music was one of the easiest 500 words I’ve ever written.

“Also, there is no doubt my musical experiences at QE were instrumental in laying the foundation for my career.”

After achieving straight As at QE – where he had been a Music Scholar – Richard went on to read Music at Durham, where he first acquired a love for composition. He went on to take a first-class Master’s degree in Composition for Film and Television at Bristol University.

In 2016, his music featured in a Student BAFTA-nominated documentary film, A Lion’s Tale. The following year, he was nominated for the Monkey Bread Tree Award for best original score for the film Rambling On. And then, also in 2017, he won second prize at the annual film-scoring competition for the California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF).

A pianist and clarinettist, Richard has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Croydon’s Fairfield Halls and at one of the Queen’s garden parties. He gives private piano or music production tuition to students. In September, he will be joining QE as a peripatetic Music teacher (piano and composition).

He is the co-founder and director of White Square Films, a production company covering all types of video and media production. He has also worked as an assistant to leading composers Martin Phipps and Samuel Sim on productions including Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown and the BBC’s Black Earth Rising (Phipps) and The Spanish Princess and The Bay (Sim).

In April 2019, Richard’s work appeared on Aurora Production Music’s latest album, Nature’s Way.

  • Richard’s music can be heard on his website.
Christmas festivities and the season of goodwill at Queen Elizabeth’s School

Festive traditions taking in church, charity and Christmas lunch helped bring the Autumn Term to a suitably seasonal end.

The Service of Nine Lessons & Carols at Chipping Barnet Parish featured Christmas music spanning the centuries. Boys and staff raised money for local charities seeking to help the disadvantaged. And the penultimate day of term brought the ever-popular full Christmas lunch in the Dining Hall.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We had a busy, enjoyable end to the term, with boys also taking time among all the festivities to remember those less fortunate than themselves. As we begin the holidays, I extend my very best wishes to all for Christmas and the New Year.”

At the Carol Service, the congregational singing began with Once in royal David’s city and ended with Hark! The herald angels sing. Interspersed were musical offerings from the Chamber Choir and the School Choir, including their respective renditions of the modern A Child is born in Bethlehem by Malcolm Archer and John Rutter’s Christmas Lullaby, as well as an introit by 16th-century Renaissance composer Palestrina, performed by the Chamber Choir.

The ‘nine lessons’ (Bible readings) were read by a boy from each year, including School Captain Aashish Khimasia, and by staff, culminating in the Headmaster’s traditional Christmas contribution from the opening chapter of St John’s Gospel.

The service was preceded by a short reception for staff past and present, and for governors, members of The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s and alumni. The reception was held close to the parish church in Tudor Hall, Wood Street, the historic home of the School until it moved to its present location in 1932.

While charity work takes place throughout the year at QE, a special effort is made at Christmas, the traditional season of goodwill. This year, there was a collection for the local food bank and for a local homelessness charity. Boys and members of staff contributed over a week-long period, and a large volume of donations was made.

These charity efforts were organised by Head of Extra-Curricular Enrichment, Rebecca Grundy, with the assistance of prefects.

In addition, in line with recent QE tradition, boys from the School Choir went out carol-singing in aid of Cherry Lodge Cancer Care in Barnet.

Music and mince pies make for a Merry Christmas

It is beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas at QE…with the School community gathering for the annual Christmas Concert.

The event featured a broad range of festive performances, from the traditional Coventry Carol to the considerably more modern Harry Potter Symphonic Suite.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was a very enjoyable evening, with strong performances showcasing the considerable strength and depth of musical interest and talent at the School.

“There were a number of highlights, from the Symphonic Winds stirring performance of Cantique de Noel and the stylish playing of the Saxophone Ensemble of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to the Barbershop’s unusual and very comedic version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The event was presented in association with the Barnet Rotary Club, a partnership which has endured for many years, and was well supported by QE families, staff, governors, and a number of Old Elizabethans, as well as guests associated with the Rotary Club. The School also welcomed The Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Councillor Caroline Stock, and her husband, Dr Richard Stock, who is himself an Old Elizabethan.

Mr Jim McCarthy, President of the Barnet Rotary Club, welcomed the guests and spoke of some of the local charitable causes the club supports, including the Noah’s Ark Hospice and a Christmas Day party for the elderly.

The concert then began with All I want for Christmas is you from the Year 12 Ensemble, followed by O Come, All Ye Faithful, for which the audience were invited to join in the singing. The Senior Indian Ensemble performed Sabhapathiku; their performance was followed by Mr Santa from the B Minors. Have yourself a merry little Christmas from the Chamber Choir led into the interval, during which mince pies were offered to the guests and the traditional Rotary Club raffle was drawn.

The concert ended with the traditional carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, in which the audience again participated.

This concert, along with the traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at the parish church, is one of the two major musical events of the season.

Younger boys show their musical mettle

Many of QE’s younger musicians performed in a concert entitled The Show Must Go On – the first of the academic year.

The Music Department event in the Shearly Hall featured around a dozen ensembles drawn heavily from the Lower School.

And even though one – the Guitar Ensemble – was unable to perform because of a technical problem, true to the theme of the evening the other performers valiantly played on to deliver the rest of the programme.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was a very good concert, amply demonstrating the strength of Music at the School in both breadth and depth, as shown on the one hand by the high levels of musical participation – around 100 boys performed in the School Choir alone – and on the other by the talent that was so evident on the night.

“Music is a key part in the wider life of the School, and I congratulate the boys on their preparation and performances.”

Music teacher Jennifer Brown paid tribute to the boys playing publicly for the first time. She pointed out that many members of the Concert Band in particular had not yet progressed beyond grade 2, yet had performed well, the concert providing them with valuable opportunities to improve skills such as sight-reading.

The concert featured diverse music from the world of show business, including hits from The Greatest Showman (the 2017 musical film about American showman and circus impresario P T Barnum), the jazz classic, In The Mood, and, of course, the iconic Queen song borrowed for the concert’s title.

Other well-known pieces of music in the programme ranged from the Allegro in Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, performed by the Flute Ensemble, to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune, played by the Celli. The Junior Indian Ensemble performed Paapanaasam Shivan’s Singara Velavan.

“The best of the best”: Headmaster salutes Queen Elizabeth’s School’s young award-winners, urging them to keep moving forward

Headmaster Neil Enright evoked Nelson Mandela as he urged QE’s young prize-winners to embrace both optimism and persistence.

Mr Enright congratulated the award-winners and explained how they could learn from the former South African President and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize-winner, speaking on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Almost 120 prizes were awarded at the 2018 Junior Awards Ceremony to boys from Years 7–9 across a broad range of categories that included not only academic subjects, but also House prizes and awards for sport, the performing arts and service.

The Headmaster pointed out that the boys receiving awards had achieved double success, firstly by securing a place at the School (more than 2,400 boys sat last year’s entrance examination) and then by winning a prize. “You have been the best of the best in your year groups for the respective subjects, extra-curricular activities and contributions to school life for which prizes are being given. You should therefore be very proud of what you have achieved,” he said.

Just as Mr Mandela had spoken of “keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forwards”, the boys should “keep taking those forward steps” and should also be “highly, but realistically, ambitious”.

Warning pupils against “complacency and hubris”, Mr Enright added: “Being humble, modest and grounded – when coupled with hard work and an inner confidence – is a safe pathway to success, and these are characteristics happily common among QE boys.” And he alluded to Nelson’s Mandela’s axiom that “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”.

The guest speaker at the afternoon ceremony in the School Hall was Old Elizabethan Daniel Isenberg (1999–2006), a young barrister who studied at Cambridge and Harvard and was also Judicial Assistant to Lord Sumption and Lord Carnwath at the Supreme Court.

Other VIP guests included Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin MBE and the Mayor of the Borough of Barnet, Councillor Reuben Thompstone.

The ceremony was enhanced by music performed by the boys, including three pieces from British composers – Samba Triste from Three Piece Suite by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Promenade from Le Tombeau de Couperin by John McLeod and Hypnosis by Ian Clarke.

The final vote of thanks was given by Ugan Pretheshan, winner of the Year 7 Public Speaking Award.

Afterwards, boys and their parents enjoyed refreshments with the Headmaster, staff and guests.

Back on top! Stapylton regain their title as QE’s leading House after a year of competition

Stapylton House are the winners of the 2017/18 House Cup – reclaiming the coveted trophy from last year’s champions, Underne.

Stapylton’s victory means this House has now won the trophy – formally the Eric Shearly Memorial Cup – for three of the last four years.

The triumph was announced at the end-of-year House assembly, where the cup was presented to House Captain Oliver Than-Lu and his Deputy, Omar Taymani, both from Year 12 (pictured above).

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to all Stapylton boys: this victory reflects their consistency of achievement in extra-curricular enrichment activities across the academic year, with the older boys’ efforts being boosted by a particularly strong Year 7 cohort. I trust that boys in other Houses will be inspired to redouble their efforts next year to challenge Stapylton for the crown.”

The assembly celebrated outstanding performances over a wide range of fields, including the performing arts, sport and charity work.

For this year’s House Drama competition, participants were challenged to produce original plays on the theme of a dystopian future: Leicester won the competition for the third consecutive year.

The House Music competition was won by Pearce.

In chess, the winners of various competitions were honoured, as were the boys chosen to receive junior, intermediate and senior colours.

Similarly, the assembly highlighted the names of boys who had won colours for music and sports.

There was a review of performances in sport throughout the year, including cricket, rugby, water polo, swimming and athletics. One innovation was the announcement of ‘teams of the year’ for cricket and rugby, which included leading performers from all year groups.

House charity fund-raising events during the year were celebrated, together with the work done to support the Sri Sathya Sai English Medium School in Kerala, India, with which QE has enjoyed a longstanding partnership.

Participation in The Duke of Edinburgh Award at QE remains strong: 100 boys from Year 10 enrolled for the bronze award in October and are due to complete their Qualifying Expedition in August, it was announced, while 34 Year 11 pupils signed up for the silver award and 18 Year 12 boys for the gold.

The assembly also recounted details of:

  • The various challenges run on a specially arranged House Afternoon
  • The QIQE quiz, which was by Stapylton
  • A number of House competitions run by the academic departments: these included, for example, a Languages competition to design a poster about a famous and influential linguist, which was won by Year 8 Stapylton pupil Jashwanth Parimi, and a photography competition for Years 7–9 run by the Geography department.
Championing change: award-winning music technology expert and record producer works to help those with disabilities

Alumnus and former QE teacher Tim Adnitt is now firmly established with a multinational music technology company, while continuing to work very successfully as a record producer and sound engineer.

Tim (OE 1988–1995) is a Product Owner for Native Instruments, leading teams in London and Berlin for the German company, which creates software and hardware for computer-based audio production.

He has also worked on several award-winning albums, including Saluting Sgt. Pepper by British musician Django Bates, in collaboration with Frankfurt Radio Big Band and Eggs Laid By Tigers. This creative re-imagining of the Beatles’ seminal LP was named The Times & The Sunday Times 2017 Jazz Album of the Year. As a composer, Tim has written music for the Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre.

His work centres on Komplete Kontrol, the award-winning keyboards used by many of the world’s leading composers and producers including Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Jean-Michel Jarre, Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL, John Powell, Noah Shebib, Jacob Collier and Justin Kauflin.

He played a key role in the creation of Native Instruments’ Native Kontrol Standard (NKS), the de facto industry standard for browsing and hardware control of virtual instruments and effects.

Tim is known as an advocate for accessibility in music technology, working to promote a change in mindset across the industry towards musicians and producers with disabilities. He co-designed Komplete Kontrol’s accessibility features for visually-impaired musicians. Tim has spoken at numerous events and conferences around the world on this topic, including: last year’s Audio Developer Conference in London; Moogfest 2018 in North Carolina, USA (where he co-presented a workshop with Stanford University’s Thinking Matters Fellow, Tiffany Naiman), and Berklee College of Music Accessibility Conference 2018 in Boston, USA.

He is supported at Native Instruments by fellow Old Elizabethan and former Music Technology student Adil Ghanty (2003-2010), who joined the company in summer 2015 – an appointment that is “testament to the strong tradition of Music and Music Technology at QE,” Tim says.

After leaving QE, Tim read Music at City, University of London, before going on to take a Master’s degree in Composition. Tim taught Music Technology at the School between 2005 and 2014.

Eclectic summer concert showcases breadth of talent and opportunity at QE as School plans a bright future for Music

With well over 100 musicians performing, this summer’s major concert amply demonstrated the strength of Music at QE.

Entitled Into the Future, the event in the Shearly Hall featured 11 different ensembles, many of which played pieces with a futuristic theme.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was an enjoyable evening which showcased the ability of our musicians across a wide range of genres, from the Sinfonietta’s rendition of the famous Dr Who theme tune and the Junior Indian Ensemble’s performance of work by the 19th-century composer Ghanam Krishna Aiyyar to Friday Jazz’s playing of I wish I knew how it feels to be free, a song made famous by Nina Simone.”

“The theme of the evening was apt: with ever-increasing participation here and plans now in place for a new Music School, the future of Music at QE is bright.”

The Summer Orchestra began the concert with two pieces by the American composer, Leroy Anderson.

The biggest ensemble of the evening was the School Choir, involving some 70 boys, many of whom also performed as instrumentalists during the concert. They sang OneRepublic’s 2013 hit, Counting Stars, composed by Ryan Tedder. Also turning out in force were the Concert Band, who brought the evening to a close with the theme from The Incredibles, the 2004 animated film blockbuster.

The classical western repertoire was also in evidence, with the Celli playing Borodin’s Notturno from his String Quartet no. 2 in D and the String Quartet performing the Adagio from Mozart’s String Quartet no. 1 in G.