“Supporting music in our community”: QE plays pioneering partnership role in Barnet festival

“Supporting music in our community”: QE plays pioneering partnership role in Barnet festival

QE played a central role in the High Barnet Chamber Music Festival, with the School’s new Friends’ Recital Hall serving as the main venue and its own musicians performing in a special charity concert there.

Pupils and staff performed to support victims of the war in Ukraine, with donations going to UNICEF and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

Joshua Ballance, artistic director of the festival, which is now in its second year, told interviewer Nick Jones, of The Barnet Society, that QE had blazed a trail for others to follow. “It is a real breakthrough for the festival to stage a showcase concert by a school orchestra and jazz band, and we hope other schools will join us next year.

“To demonstrate our involvement with local schools, we shall be running master classes at Queen Elizabeth’s with some of the professional musicians who have performed at the festival, ” said Mr Ballance. “We want to extend our reach-out programme and offer master classes at other schools. Our link with Queen Elizabeth’s demonstrates the partnership we would like to create.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “QE is very much a part of Barnet, so it was splendid to support this new festival bringing professional music to our community. I was also pleased that our own musicians were involved and that we were able to showcase our new facilities to music-lovers beyond our immediate Elizabethan family. I look forward to many similar events in the future.”

During the charity concert, QE’s Director of Music, Ruth Partington, joined Year 12 pupil Jao-Yong Tsai and the School’s accompanist, Tadashi Imai, in a performance of Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, for clarinet, viola and piano.

There was a performance of Brahms’ Clarinet Trio, Op. 114, i. Allegro & ii. Adagio. The Jazz Band and QE’s junior jazz group, conducted by Music teacher Caroline Grint, performed a medley for the concert’s finale that included Rock Around the Clock, Georgia on My Mind, and Bandstand Boogie.

Following the charity concert, audiences returned to the 230-seat recital hall – part of the School’s new Music complex officially opened in May – for the festival’s final two events.

First the Mad Song ensemble of young musicians, directed by Mr Ballance, performed a range of music by modern composers Missy Mazzoli, Kaija Saariaho, Joan Tower, Richard Causton, Barbara Monk Feldman, and Steve Reich. The evening was acclaimed by Bernard Hughes, reviewer for specialist website theartsdesk.com as an “ambitious and intriguing concert”.

More familiar musical fare came in the final concert held in The Friends’ Recital Hall, when cellist Ben Tarlton and pianist Robin Green played Beethoven’s Sonata in F for Cello and Piano, Nadia Boulanger’s Three Pieces for Cello and Piano and Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano.