Permission to form the first school Cadet Corps in Wales was granted to Christ College Brecon by the War Office in the autumn of 1894 and Mr Tucker, a Master at the school, was nominated as the Commanding Officer. His appointment was gazetted on 23rd January 1895. With a view to the formation of the Corps, drill had started early in 1894. The school magazine of the year stated that one of the aims of the Corps was that the school would be represented by a shooting team at the annual Public Schools' rifle meeting at Bisley, but this was not achieved until 1985.
The Corps was affiliated to 1st Brecknockshire Volunteer Rifle Battalion of the South Wales Borderers and was known as 1 C. C. 1 V.B. S. W.B. The uniform was identical to that of the S.W.B.: scarlet tunic, blue trousers with red piping, field service cap, white belt, frog, pouches, and sling.
The Corps was armed with the Martini Henry Rifle and triangular bayonet. It had been set up with the approval and assistance of the then district commander, Colonel C J Bromhead C.B., who also inspected the Corps a number of times in the next five years. The school was very proud to have a Corps and to quote the Breconian (the school magazine) of 1894 "The Corps is an established fact; and most of all we have the honour to be attached to a most illustrious regiment. What boy in Christ College has not read of the heroes of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana! What heart does not warm within him at the recollections of the exploits of Lieuts Chard and Bromhead! Shall we not then henceforward hold it our chiefest pride to wear the uniform, badge, and motto of the gallant SW.B?"
Training seems to have mostly consisted of drills three times a week before breakfast with an occasional visit to the range to fire M.H. Rifle or the Morris Tube. Route marches were also part of the training and there were a couple of Field Days at the turn of the century when mock battles were fought against other school cadet forces. The most notable was a sham fight against the Hereford School Cadets when Hereford had to run a convoy through from Hay to Glasbury and Christ College tried to intercept it.
General Inspections were a regular feature of life in the Corps. One disastrous inspection occurred in 1898 when the inspecting officer Colonel Browne V.C. arrived at the parade ground before the Corps, and the commanding officer did not know the words of command on the parade ground. In July 1899 the members of the Corps were told to have their hair cut shorter, and a fine of 3d (1 1/4p) was imposed on people who made insulting remarks about the Corps.
In 1897 the M.H. Rifle was replaced by the Martini-Metford Carbine which was much lighter and proved more accurate and during 1902 military greatcoats, haversacks, kit-bags, and slouch hats were issued. The end of the Boer War saw the introduction of the new uniform of khaki and putties which was a great help to recruiting.In 1908 when the new Territorial Army came into existence 1 C.C. 1 V.B. SW.B. ceased to exist. School Cadet Corps were invited to join the new Junior Division of the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.) but Christ College did not do this and as a result the Cadet Corps was disbanded on the 14th July 1910.
The Cadet Corps was revived in 1914 though only unofficially. They were able to borrow dummy rifles which enabled them to learn drill with arms and though were somewhat lighter than service rifles they could do good drill with them. It was not until 7th April 1916 that the Cadet Corps was recognised and affiliated to the Brecknockshire Territorial Battalion of the S.W.B. (Army Order 160/16). As a consequence of the affiliation the Corps was able to secure the services of Sergeant Burke from the barracks for two of their three weekly drills and uniforms were supplied. The corps was very popular at the school but it was never accepted into the O. T. C. and only survived until 1921 when it was disbanded under Army Order 452/21. It seems to have been commanded over this period by a Mr. G.H. Isitt, though he never held a commission. He was a master at the school for 40 years and retired only in 1958.
1937 saw the re-establishment of the Cadet Corps at the College as part of the Junior division of the Officer Training Corps. It consisted of an Office Establishment of two platoons and was commanded by Captain I.M. Powell (O.B.). Captain Powell was previously adjutant of 6th (Glamorgan) Battalion The Welch Regiment (T.A.). He was commissioned into the Welch Regiment on 16th August 1916 and served in France and Belgium between 21st September 1916 and 8th September 1918. His son Dr. Peter Powell is a former governor of the College and his great-grandson was also in the College C.C.F. They were badged S.W.B. and remained so until the amalgamation when they rebadged Royal Regiment of Wales.In 1948 the O.T.C. changed its name and became known as the Combined Cadet Force. In 1964 a naval section was formed at the College. The C.C.F. now goes to annual central camp and there is a Field Day each term. In 1991 the annual camp was in Berlin as guests of the R.W.F. Three years ago we were invited to join the annual Cambrian Patrol (Cadets) Competition and we have won the C.C.F. cup on numerous occasions since.
The centenary was marked by a parade at Christ College on the 2nd June 1994 when a new standard was presented. The inspecting office was Brigadier D. de G. Bromhead L.V.O., O.B.E. whose great-great-uncle helped establish the Corps in 1894. The Band of 2 R.R.W. performed the ceremony of Beating Retreat and a splendid Mess Dinner was held in the Large Dining Hall.
Many pupils complete the Gold Award by the end of their Upper Sixth year. Most of Year M10 pupils begin their Bronze award. The boarding school environment is ideal for helping them with the completion of their skills, physical recreation and community service.
The situation of Christ College in the heart of the Beacons is an added bonus. Pupils have completed conservation work on Pen-y-Fan and participated in expeditions in the National Park.
The Music Department offers a wide variety of co-curricular performance opportunities which support and enhance our academic provision.
An inclusive environment is encouraged, where boys and girls of all ages and abilities are given the opportunity to perform in concerts and competitions both within school and further afield. We are most fortunate to have several performance venues on our doorstep, including the Creative Arts Centre, Y Neuadd Goffa: The Memorial Hall (opened September 2013) and the school chapel, with its fabulous acoustic for singing. Two or three performances each year, including the carol service, take place at Brecon Cathedral which is just a 10 minute walk away. The Theatr Brycheiniog, also in Brecon, is available as a versatile venue and further afield, Brangwyn Hall in Swansea and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff have also been used for large-scale works. In addition to these concerts, the department organises tours both nationally and internationally.
A number of music awards are offered to the most gifted and dedicated pupils. The Director of Music is always pleased to meet and advise prospective applicants prior to auditions taking place.
Music is top-notch ... and the singing in chapel has to be heard to be believed!
The Good Schools Guide
CHRIST COLLEGE ALLOWS FOR EXTENSIVE PROVISION OF SPECIALIST INDIVIDUAL TEACHING FOR INSTRUMENTALISTS AND SINGERS.
Currently about 40% of the school receive individual lessons within the department and 160 lessons are timetabled each week allowing for minimal disruption to the academic timetable. Lessons are available on piano, organ, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, classical and electric guitar and singing. Individual theory lessons are also available for those needing to prepare for the ABRSM Grade 5 Theory examination.
There are currently 11 Visiting Instrumental Teachers, many of whom perform regularly in BBC and other professional orchestras and choirs; the 2 full time staff also teach a proportion of instrumental lessons. Pupils are encouraged to prepare for the examinations of either the ABRSM or Trinity College London and they are given opportunities to prepare themselves for performance through a series of informal Monday evening ‘Soundbites’ concerts that run throughout the year.
One only has to attend chapel to appreciate that there is a very strong culture of singing in the school. Every single pupil will find themselves on stage during the course of a year and there is a huge sense of pride on display in the annual House Singing Competition, which is one of the most fiercely contested whole school events that take place. Individual singing lessons are encouraged for those wanting to perform with one of the school choirs and at present there are about 30 pupils who take advantage of these lessons, offered by two specialist vocal coaches.
Several pupils have performed with high profile organisations outside of school in recent years, including the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, The National Youth Choir of Wales, the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, The National Youth Orchestra of Wales and the National Schools Symphony Orchestra, the Claire Jones Harp Summer School and the American Youth Harp Ensemble.
- Chamber Choir is an auditioned choir for senior pupils in Year 10 and above, inging a wide repertoire of mainly unaccompanied music.
- Chapel Choir numbering some 50 pupils, is a group of auditioned singers from Year 7 and above who come together to provide high quality music for services and concerts throughout the year. Rehearsals are held three times a week and the choir sings at the weekly Wednesday morning service in addition to other special services and occasions. The choir toured to Paris in February 2013, Prague February 2015 and Rome February 2017, notably performing in St Peter’s Basilica. A CD of Christmas music entitled Lux was recorded in the college chapel in 2013.
- The Community Choir is open to all members and friends of the college community. The Choral Society meets at certains times of the year on Monday evenings at 6.30 pm to rehearse large-scale works. In recent years they have combined with other college choirs, as well as the Brecon Singers (the town choral society), to perform works such as Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (April 2012), Verdi’s Requiem (April 2013) Vivaldi’s Gloria (November 2013); Rutter's Requiem (November 2014), Mozart's Vespera solennes de confessore (March 2015), Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose by Alexander L’Estrange (2016). In November 2018 a performance of Zimbe! by Alexander L’Estrange is planned for a concert at Brecon Cathedral with choirs from several local primary schools and prep schools joining the Christ College choirs.
ORCHESTRAS, BANDS & ENSEMBLES
|THE PROVISION OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOYS AND GIRLS TO PLAY IN AN ENSEMBLE IS FAR REACHING.|
There are some 13 instrumental groups that meet regularly and several other smaller groups that would come together for special events. These groups are run by the relevant instrumental teacher and would usually include all of the pupils learning an instrument. Currently about 50% of the school participate in an instrumental ensemble. Those pupils learning outside of school are also most welcome to participate. Membership of some of the groups is tailored to certain ages or ability levels:
- Junior Wind Sinfonia
- Senior Wind Sinfonia
- Senior Chamber Wind
- Junior Percussion
- Intermediate Percussion
- Senior Percussion
- Guitar Ensemble
- Cello Ensemble
- Senior String Quartet
- Chamber Orchestra
- String Orchestra
CONCERTS,COMPETITIONS & PRODUCTIONS
THE ACADEMIC YEAR IS PACKED WITH A WONDERFUL VARIETY OF CONCERTS, COMPETITIONS AND PRODUCTIONS THAT SUITS EVERY TASTE AND TALENT.
The academic year is barely underway when each house begins to focus on the House Music Competition, held in October and one of the most fiercely contested events in the college calendar.
There are two separate events, the House Instrumental Competition and House Singing Competition, which carry equal weighting. For the Instrumental Competition, each house puts forward a three of their strongest soloists to represent them in the various instrumental categories, they also prepare an acoustic ensemble item.
In the House Singing Competition, each house chooses a unison song, involving every member of the house, as well as a part song for any number of singers. Both competitions are judge by invited professional musicians.
As well as the main choral and orchestral concerts in the Michaelmas and Lent terms, two externally sponsored competitions take place in the Lent term; the Instrumentalist of the Year Competition, sponsored by an Old Breconian, and the Singer of the Year Competition, sponsored by Creative Risk Solutions, are invitational events open to musicians of all ages who have reached a high level of proficiency on their instrument.
Music and Drama departments and have worked closely together to produce a long line of stage musical productions. Almost a third of the college community came together in December 2013 to perform Les Misérables (School Edition) in the new Creative Arts Centre, Y Neuadd Goffa and this was followed by Grease in December 2015. In December 2018 we will be performing Phantom of the Opera. In the summer term each year there is a junior musical production for Alway House members (Years 7 and 8), which has often been a musical: Bugsy (2014), The Lion King (Jnr) (2015), Annie (Jnr) (2016); The Jungle Book (Jnr) (2017); Alice in Wonderland (2018). In June 2019, the junior musical production will be Beauty and the Beast.
In addition to these special events, the Music department organises a series of ‘Open Mic’ events, which are designed to provide soloists and ensembles with an informal setting in which to hone their performance and presentation skills. Musicians preparing for ABRSM or Trinity examinations, auditions, competitions, GCSEs and A levels often find these sessions invaluable. ‘Open Mic’ events take place in the Powell Galley in Y Neuadd Goffa: The Memorial Hall at 5.15pm on several Mondays each term.
The school stages a number of plays and musical productions every year
The school stages a number of plays and musical productions every year, with a Senior Production, A Junior House Production (Years 7 and 8) and a Middle School Production (Years 9 and 10) Each year pupils past and present as well as teachers, parents and members of staff come together for a community project. Recent performances have included:
Activities take place throughout the week, and pupils attend the activities that most interest them and that they can fit into their busy schedules.
Some activities are extensions of the games programme, and make use of facilities or coaching expertise that may not be available in the usual games times. Activities such as Fencing, Basketball, or Canoeing are in this category.
Pupils in Years 7 to 9 are expected to have a full activity programme; as pupils have more academic pressures and coursework then allowance is made for that, though the benefits of pursuing enjoyable hobbies and pastimes are never forgotten.
All of Years 9 and 10 take part in the school’s Combined Cadet Force on a Thursday afternoon, and the majority of Form 4 begin the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The Army and Air Force sections of the CCF give the pupils the chance for outward bound activities, helicopter and fixed-wing flying, and weekend expeditions in the Brecon Beacons.