Doing us proud! QE’s musicians shine in national competition

Doing us proud! QE’s musicians shine in national competition

After QE hosted the qualifying round of a national chamber music festival – the first competitive event to be held in the new Friends’ Recital Hall – ensembles from the School went on to further success in the later stages of the competition.

Six groups reached the semi-final of the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival for Schools – a total exceeded by only two other schools nationally – and two of the QE ensembles went all the way to the final at Millfield School in Somerset.

Director of Music Ruth Partington said: “All of the chamber musicians who took part in this year’s Pro Corda competition should be exceptionally proud of themselves. Not only did they perform with great musical maturity at the highest level, but the groups that progressed through the rounds demonstrated a remarkable ability to respond directly to the feedback given by the adjudicator in the masterclass sessions and improve each performance.”

In 2020, the festival final due to be held in March was cancelled because of the looming pandemic. All that year’s finalists, including QE’s Saxophone Ensembles, were named the 2020 Chamber Champions. 2021’s festival was largely called off, again because of the pandemic.

Ten ensembles entered this year’s qualifying round held in The Friends’ Recital Hall – part of QE’s £3.5m-plus new Music School, which will be officially opened next month.

Among them, the Year 13 Flute Trio certainly caught the judges’ attention: they were described as having given “a simply outstanding performance”.

Pro Corda Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director Andrew Quartermain wrote afterwards to Miss Partington and Music teacher Caroline Grint to offer his “huge congratulations for what you have achieved with the chamber music in the school (at any time, but most especially after these recent times!).”

The festival had been honoured to be among the inaugural users of QE’s “wonderful new hall and facilities”, he wrote. “Great students, great day, great company – thank you!”

Of the ten, the trio and the following five other ensembles reached the semi-final, held at Charterhouse School in Surrey:

  • Senior Piano Trio
  • Piano Quartet
  • Junior Violin Trio
  • Saxophone Quintet
  • Junior Violin Trio

Only the independent Sevenoaks and Perse schools saw more ensembles qualify for the semi-finals nationally. QE’s semi-finalists are pictured, top.

The two ensembles which then reached the final at Millfield were the Junior Violin Trio and the Saxophone Quintet.

The trio were one of five groups competing in the U14 category. The trio comprises: Year 8 pianist Shreyas Iyengar; violin 1, played by Jamie Lam, of Year 7, and violin 2, played by Alex Kronabetter, of Year 8.

There were also five groups in the Saxophone Quintet’s U19 category. The five musicians were: Conor Parker-Delves, of Year 13, playing the soprano saxophone: Leo Sellis, of Year 9, playing the baritone saxophone; Suraj Cheema, of Year 12, playing the tenor saxophone; Leo Dane-Liebesny, of Year 12, playing the alto saxophone, and Nathan Woodcock, of Year 11, also on the alto saxophone.

“Our musicians also presented themselves – and the School – in a totally professional manner, appearing at ease on stage, introducing their repertoire with confidence, and bowing to acknowledge the audience’s warm applause after their performances,” said Miss Partington. “Whilst it wasn’t a win this year for QE’s chamber musicians, to have two groups make it through to the final is an enormous achievement in itself, particularly given the context of difficulties of music-making over the last two years. Bring on next year’s competition!”