Music

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

 

Instrumental & Singing Teaching

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.

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

Choirs

  • 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.

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.

Music Scholarships & Awards

CHRIST COLLEGE OFFERS A RANGE OF SCHOLARSHIPS, EXHIBITIONS AND AWARDS TO RECOGNISE, ENCOURAGE AND REWARD MUSICAL TALENT. 

Music award holders are expected to represent the very highest standards in terms of ability and commitment. They will demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for what they do and set an excellent example both within school and in the wider community. In return, they will be supported with individually tailored timetables that allow for maximum time to practise and to receive the appropriate tuition, whether that be at Christ College, or at the RWCMD in Cardiff on Saturdays.

Music award holders will:

  • demonstrate a genuine passion for music making at the highest levels
  • aim to make the study and rehearsal of Music their first priority
  • show evidence of excellent results in practical examinations, auditions and public performance
  • show consistent commitment to the improvement of their own skills
  • participate in at least two major ensembles or choirs
  • perform as a soloist both in and out of school at appropriate events.
  • if first study pianists, act as accompanists for soloists and chamber ensembles
  • be encouraged to study Music at GCSE
  • attend and participate in master classes given by visiting musicians.

The audition process for Music awards is intended to discover musical aptitude, promise and a genuine passion and commitment to producing excellent results. Strong evidence of these key factors will far outweigh any previous results in examinations. However, as a rough guide, candidates in the 11+ age group should normally be at least ABRSM Grade 4 standard on their first study instrument and in the 13+ age group, ABRSM Grade 6 standard on their first study instrument. At audition, candidates will be asked to:

  • Perform two contrasting pieces on their first study instrument;
  • Perform one piece on their second study instrument;
  • Play scales and arpeggios as directed;
  • Perform an appropriate level of sight reading on their first study instrument;
  • Complete a set of aural and voice tests;
  • Discuss their motivations and intentions in relation to academic and practical aspects of the subject.

Candidates may bring their own accompanist (if applicable) or, if an accompanist is required, the piano part should be sent to the Music department at least one week before the date of the audition.

For details, please contact Admissions Registrar, Mrs Margaret Stephens, or Director of Music,  Mr Jonathan Ling, for details.