|STAFFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL|
The Music Department presents approximately 30 concert each year. Here are just a few reports from recent events.
Concert Band perform at Wrekin College
The Concert Band travelled to Wrekin College near Telford to perform in a joint concert with the host school and another Shropshire secondary school. As Wrekin Director of Music Francis Murton said in his welcomes the annual concert had been running for nearly 10 years and it was originally the brainchild of SGS Director of Music Mr Lamplough when he was Head of Brass at Wrekin. Each school peformed for 15 minutes in each half and then Mr Lamplough conducted the massed bands finale with over 100 musicians!
The SGS Concert Band were in fine form performing music from the shows (Hairspray and Chicago) and the movies (Fantasy Adventure at the Movies - John Williams) alongside original wind band compositions (Washington Post March - Sousa), classical works (JS Bach's Toccata in D Minor) and folk music (Lord of the Dance). The prolonged applause certainly indicated that the audience enjoyed the SGS band's contribution.
Newcastle-u-Lyme and National Music for Youth Competitions
A busy day - even by our standards!! It started on the Friday evening when the Prep School Choir, Recorder ensemble and a number of soloists entered their classes and continued through the weekend with N-u-L competitions in the morning and National MFY heats in the afternoon! Many then went on to other concerts in the evening!
We entered a number of classes and came away with a clean sweep of first place prizes…..almost! The Recorder Group were successful in winning the Recorder Groups 16 years and under. This is the 4th year that they have won this. Georgie McKinley (Year 10 - just 16 years old) did incredibly well to win the 16 yrs old and over category for Music Theatre with "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Georgie was by far the youngest in a class intended for experienced musicians. Simon Ashwood won the 13-15 years old Songs from Stage and Screen class with "On the Street Where you live" from My Fair Lady. The SGS Big Band were the winners of the Open Band competition which included very experienced adult ensembles and our Big Band were the only school group. The clean sweep was completed by the SGS Concert Band in the Bands 19 years and under class when they were awarded the highest total of marks for their performance of "The Rainbow Warrior". They were, however, prevented from lifting the trophy as their performance exceeded the allotted 6 minutes for this category by a mere 20 seconds!
Les Miserables - School Production 2013
"A triumph!" "Better than the film!" "What a talent!" "After 30 seconds I had forgotten this was a school production!"
Just some of the comments received following another hugely successful SGS production. Mr Lamplough (Musical Director) and Mr Jones (Director) had worked since October with the cast of 40 pupils aged 12-18 years and all of this was whilst the music department were as busy as ever. The week was a triumph! 5 performances backed by a live professional band (with two senior students involved!) and sound and lighting provided by Pure Technical Services (fresh from their involvement on the Olly Murs tour!), our fearless cast surpassed all expectation with stunning displays of musicianship and theatrical integrity.
From the lead roles to the members of the cast and crew, everyone who contributed to the success of the sold out performances should be commended! Well done!
Music Festival 2013
One of the highlights of the year is always the SGS Music Festival. A competitive event for any musician within Stafford Grammar School it is always an inspiring and exciting time. Over 60 musicians auditioned for a place in the concert final which was once again adjudicated by a musician with an international reputation. Following on from the visit of Opera Star Brindley Sherratt from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2012 SGS welcomed CBSO Maestro Michael Seal to adjudicate our 2013 final. As well as being an excellent violinist, Mr Seal is in demand as a concductor and has worked with most of the UK's premiere orchestras.
The talent on view was quite simply breath-taking with the Junior section being the most fiercely fought contest yet! In the Junior section alone there was a total of FOUR musicians who currently represent the UK in national music ensembles and another THREE who are part of the CBSO Youth Orchestra or Choir. The standard of the senior class was as high as ever and was an excellent reflection of the hard work that our musicians put in each week.
The eventual winners, chosen by Mr Seal were Dominic Sterland (Viola) in the Junior section and Adam Handford (Trumpet) in the Senior section. Junior runners up were Milly Yates (Voice) in 2nd and Charlotte Howdle (3rd) and in the Seniors Joe Yates (Flute) was 2nd and Sarah Knight (Saxophone) was 3rd.
Big Band at Sandon Hall
At a fund raiser for the Women's Land Army charity the SGS Big Band were the guests of Lady Harrowby in the beautiful setting of Sandon Hall. Performing two 1 hour sets in the wonderful Sandon Hall in front of a quite superb Christmas Tree it was a fantastic event. The event was sold out with all tables being filled to capacity and extra seats being provided for people to sit at the back! The hundreds of music-lovers were able to enjoy jazz classics alongside some brilliant arrangements for Big Band of Christmas songs and carols. The evening was a huge success and raised money for the charity. The band only hopes that Lady Harrowby's invite to return and play at Sandon Hall again comes to fruition!
If you would like to book the Big Band to perform at a Jazz club or to play at a private function, please contact Director of Music Mr Lamplough at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas was as busy as ever for the Music Department at Stafford Grammar School. Concerts in the local community at churches, theatres and even Sandon Hall were played to capacity audiences and the reaction of the general public to our carols around the Christmas Tree in Stafford was as positive as ever. The band divided up and visited 3 supermarkets and the farmers market to spread some Christmas cheer and the public were delighted to see our musicians there once again. "I know it's nearly Christmas when I hear Stafford Grammar playing carols" said one lady. As well as this we performed music at a local hospice for Cancer patients and visited a number of homes for the elderly.
It is also a time for concerts of a different kind and it was wonderful to welcome over 400 to our annual School Christmas Concert again. The full array of school ensembles and choirs were on show and a wonderful evening of festive music was enjoyed by all. The evening featured music from our Orchestra and Concert Band, Choirs and Big Band, as well as our chamber ensembles and solos from some of our Upper 6th members who will soon be leaving us for University.
Our Orchestra and Chamber Choir made their annual visit to St. Mary's Church in Stafford to give a lunchtime Christmas Concert. The church, adorned in typical style with Christmas trees decorated by the local community, is always a beautiful setting for this annual concert and we were delighted to see many in the audience once again.
Big Band at Trentham Park Golf Club
The Big Band were booked to provide an evening of jazz to an appreciative audience. The band featured music by the giants of swing including Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller as well as more contemporary big band jazz numbers. The music was swinging, the drinks were flowing and a good evening was had by all. If you would like to book the Big Band to perform at a Jazz club or to play at a private function, please contact Director of Music Mr Lamplough at email@example.com
SGS Battle of the Bands 2012
October saw the return of Stafford Grammar School's annual Battle of the Bands. This year a total of nine bands competed to be named SGS Battle of the Bands champion 2012. Among the nine bands were 2 staff bands performing a Beastie Boys hit and punk hit "Nelly the Elephant" respectively.
The band that ran out eventual winners were called Nova Fiasco and featured Year 10, 11 and 6th form pupils. they played "Super Massive Black Hole" by Mews and "I bet that you look good on the dancefloor" by the Arctic Monkeys.
It was a great gig with a great atmosphere and we look forward to next year! Well done to all the bands that took part.
Concert Band Tour to Italy
July 2012 was a month that many SGS musicians were looking forward to! Following on from the huge success of the Concert Band tour to France in 2010 the Band were on their travels again - this time to Italy! Staying in Rome for 7 days the band gave 5 concerts in the cities of Rome and Florence and they were delighted with the reception from the Italian public. Hundreds of people flocked to the concerts and the audiences didn't just reflect the Italian public but also people from all over the world who were holidaying in the Italian capital and were attracted to the concerts.
As well as 5 concerts the band also visited Italian landmarks such as the Collessium and visited the Vatican Museum. All of this was balanced with a day in a water park and a day at the beach. All of the concerts were in the evening and with the highlight being the final concert next to lake Bracciana in front of a large and appreciative audience.
Choral Day 2012
We were delighted to invite 150 young musicians to our school for the second year running to participate in the hugely successful Choral Day. As our special guests this year we welcomed Marc Hall from the CBSO and Halle Youth Choir organisations and Catherine Benson from the Birmingham Conservatoire alongside our very own Mrs Stephanie Lamplough who is herself a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire and an Operatic singer who is as much in demand for her choral leadership as she is for solo performance.
The children (and staff!!) were put through their paces by the visiting musicians before they presented a concert in front of an audience of 400. This concert, shared with the SGS Concert band, was very well received and was a perfect end to a perfect day. Roll on Choral Day 2013!!
Big Band at Stafford Rangers
The Big Band was delighted to be featuring as part of the Stafford Music Festival 2012. Performing at what has become the "home of Jazz in Stafford", Stafford Rangers FC social club, they gave a 'swinging' gig in front of a large and appreciative audience. The audience of jazz-lovers were treated to a set of foot-tapping music from 1940's Big Band swing to more contemporary latin sounds. The band also featured vocal soloist Imogeb Bloxham who sang some standards made popular recently by Michael Buble.
It was an excellent night and it has been thrilling to receive many emails of support from audience members stating how impressed they were by the standard of the playing.....one even being sent from the House of Commons!
School Musical - Beauty and the Beast
The Stafford Grammar School Music and Drama departments joined forces once again to stage a full school production. Following on from the huge success of "Annie!" last year Mr Lamplough and Mr Jones teamed up to stage the Disney hit show "Beauty and the Beast". The four nights were a sell out and the audience were not left disappointed. The professional band and phenominal sound and lighting (Pure Technical Services, Sheffield) gave the perfect platform for our budding stars to perform on and they certainly rose to the challenge. There were some quite excellent performances from Adam Handford (Beast), Imogen Bloxham and Laura Thomas (Belle), Freddie Hutchinson (Gaston) and Sarah Gough (Lumiere) but as a whole the cast were outstanding!
Congratulations one and all!
School Concert - Easter 2012
400 people packed into the Stafford Grammar School Sports Hall for the annual Easter Concert. This concert is, of course, the final school concert for some and so it always proves to be a special evening which is, quite often, emotionally charged. All of the school ensembles were featured the Orchestra performing superbly in our first half, ending with an exciting (and FAST!) performance of Rossini's "William Tell Overture". Also featured in the first half was a debut performance for our String Orchestra led by our Strings teacher Mrs C. Stanley. The String department continues to flourish under her leadership and this was evident from their performance. The choir featured songs associated with Easter and the usual excitement was generated by the Percussion Ensemble (Mr M. Davies), Saxophone Ensemble (Mrs S. Hewitt) and student led Flute groups. The Big Band featured three pieces and showed just what a tight ensemble they are becoming with an authentic approach to big band jazz.
The second half was the turn of the Concert Band who wowed the audience once again with their huge sound and dexterity. The Chamber Choir sang beautifully and the recorders featured a well known Disney song. We also had the return of the Electric String Quartet. Interspersed throughout the night were some soloists who leave this year. As is the case every year, we lose some fantastic musicians in the summer and they will be greatly missed.
Orchestra at St. Mary's Church, Stafford
The Stafford Grammar School Orchestra returned to the glorious acoustics of St. Mary's Church in Stafford to perform in an afternoon concert on Saturday 10th March 2012. The Orchestra featured music by Faure, Rossini, Dvorak, Beethoven and Bizet and they were joined by the school Chamber Choir and Recorder ensemble. The appreciative audience was strong in number and this reflects the great work that the team at St. Mary's do in promoting live music here in Stafford through this series of concerts.
Music Festival 2012
On Wednesday 29th February we held our fourth annual Music Competition final. 20 young musicians battled it out to become the winner of the Nicholls Junior Trophey (Years 7-10) and the Taylor Senior Cup (Year 11-U6). The performances were better than ever with the vast majority of the field playing music that goes way beyond the expectations of the Grade 8 exmainations on their chosen instrument. Eventual winners in the Junior category were Georgie McKinley - Voice (3rd), Dominic Sterland - Viola (2nd) and Milly Yates - Voice (1st). The Senior prize winners were Laura Thomas - Voice (3rd), Lorna Dobson - Flute (2nd) and the overall winner was Upper 6th musician Ellie Davies - Trombone (1st).
The competition was adjudicated by International Opera star Brindley Sherratt who took time out of his busy schedule at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) to be part of this special evening. Well done to all 20 finalists and to the 60 people who auditioned.
December was another busy month for our Music Department. It all started with our Orchestra, Recorder Ensemble and Chamber Choir in concert at St. Mary's Church in Stafford. The concert was part of their Christmas Concert Series and the church was decked out with Christmas trees donated and dressed by local businesses and organisations. It was against this backdrop that the Orchestra played Christmas classics such as Anderson's "Sleigh Ride", the Recorders took us to seven different countries with an arrangement of "Good King Wenceslas" and the Chamber Choir sang a selection of Christmas music.
The following day we hosted our annual Christmas Concert. This year our "Winter Wonderland of Music" featured festive music from all of our ensembles including our Concert Band, Orchestra, Choir, Big Band, Chamber Choir, Recorder Ensemble, Saxophone Ensembles, Flute Ensembles and Percussion Ensembles. Music such as Bizet's "Farandole", the ever popular "The Most Wonderful Time of Year", a swing arrangement entitled "God Rest Ye Merry Samba", a beautiful rendition of "Infant Holy" by our choir and music from the Concert Band included an extended work called "The Proclamation of Christmas". It was a wonderful evening when even the 400 strong audience joined in as we sang a Christmas carol or two!
The Concert Band were also "out and about" over Christmas bringing festive cheer to shoppers. They performed carols at three supermarkets in Stafford, as well as playing in neighbouring Penkridge and at Trentham Gardens.
The Christmas Season at Stafford Grammar School ended in usual fashion with our Choirs participating in our annual Carol Service at St. Mary's Church, Stafford.
Battle of the Bands
The autumn term saw another "first" for Stafford Grammar School Music Department. Over 100 spectators witnessed 10 bands battle it out in the inaugural "Battle of the Bands" and were also treated to two songs from our "house band", a professional band fronted by SGS Guitar teacher Mat Dale, "The Cartoon Kings". The bands all performed really well and the atmosphere was electric! One highlight was, without doubt, the last band to perform - "Midlife Crisis". The band comprised of SGS staff members and the crowd responded well to the band. But there was no 1st prize for "Midlife Crisis". They were pipped to the post by the band that played number one, a sixth form band called "Broken Spoon". In third place was "Left Hand Motive", a band of Year 9 and 10 pupils.
It was a great night and on this evidence will certainly be repeated!
The Stafford Grammar School Music Department hosted the inaugural Choral Day and welcome over 100 local school children to share in what was a phenominal success. SGS welcomed special guests for the day to coach the young choristers: Dorothy Nancekievill (Director of Music - Wells Cathedral School), Malcolm Newton (West End and Royal Shakespeare Musical Director) and Themba Muvula (Lichfield Gospel Choir). The pupils enjoyed 4 hours of workshops looking at vocal warmups, technique, traditional choral repertoire, musical theatre songs, gospel singing and traditional African vocal music. After an evening picnic hundreds of parents and friendscame to enjoy a concert which featured all of the repertoire rehearsed during the day. The SGS Concert Band also supported and there was a short DVD highlighting the days activities.
Concert Band at Hyde Lea and Coppenhall Music Festival
The Concert Band performed to a packed marquee on a wet June evening. No one quite knew what to expect as the heavens opened, but as the band took their seats there was a large and appreciative audience eagerly waiting. The band performed a full two hour concert of music featuring familiar favourites such as "The Stars and Stripes March", medleys from "Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat", "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Disney films and Ray Farr's arrangement of Bach's lively "Toccata in D Minor". There was also new music for the audience to enjoy including Jenkins' "Palladio" and William Himes' "Creed".
The Concert Band played particularly well as it was somewhat depleted. Year 7 and 8 were out on their annual field trip to France and Germany and a number of Year 11 and 6th Form pupils were enjoying holidays following their examinations. But it did not detract from the performance and the 30 players who were there played extremely well. It proved to be a wonderful evening for the band and the audience alike, and as everyone stepped out into the rain there was still a real "buzz" of excitement.
Big Band - Summer Term 2011
It was a hectic end to the academic year in the Music Department. The Big Band were out on the road to end a hugely successful first year. They performed as part of the Seighford Village Festival and then performed five concerts in one day! Travelling around Prep. and Middle Schools in Wolverhampton, the Big Band performed educational concerts to hundreds of children and staff. It was a hugely successful venture as the band performed to a very high standard. They also showed their commitment and organisation qualities in travelling to and from the concert venues, promoting Stafford Grammar School, and the Music Department particularly, in the best possible light.
Concert Band at Stafford Gatehouse
The Mayor of Stafford invited 10 of his favourite acts from around the County to perform at the newly refurbished Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and our very own Concert Band were invited to perform at this prestigious event. The Concert Band performed Sousa's "Stars and Stripes March", "A Tribute to Count Basie", "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray, music from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and finished with "Toccata in D Minor" by Bach.
The Band were delighted to perform in this concert which symbolised its growing stature within Staffordshire.
Easter Concert 2011
"The best yet!" "The standard just gets better and better!" "We've come to expect high standards but this surpassed all expectations!"
Just some of the comments as people left the Sports Hall following our final school concert of the academic year. All of the ensembles were performing as usual and gave a diverse programme of music. The Orchestra were the centrepiece of the first half and played orchestral classics such as the "March from Somerset" from "English Folk Songs" by Vaughan Williams. The Orchestra finished the first half with a simply stunning performance of Rossini's exciting "Overture from the Thieving Magpie" which prompted prolonged applause and a standing ovation. Also in the first half we heard music from some of our leavers including Lloyd-Webber's vocal duet "Pie Jesu" and exciting music from our Saxophone and Percussion Ensembles, Recorder Ensemble and our choir gave a lively gospel interpretation of Beethoven's Ode to Joy entitled "Joyful, Joyful".
The second half was given a kick start by our Concert Band as they played "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray, and this summed up the concert perfectly. The standard was maintained as every ensemble was featured. Then came the highlight of the concert for many. Mr Lamplough and Mrs Beauchamp have been teaching the whole of Year 8 to play the Guitar this term and Mr Lamplough made the "brave" decision to feature the whole of Year 8 in thus concert. With Guitars borrowed from all over Stafford, the Year 8 guitarists played "Rockin' All Over the World" and it certainly was "Rockin All over the Sports Hall"! The whole audience were singing along to the Status Quo classic and in the middle 8 they were clapping along with their hands above their heads - Mums, Dads, Brothers, Sisters, Grandparents and Teachers. Sadly it was too dark in the auditorium to see if the Headmaster was clapping along! The Second half ended with a stunning performance of Ray Farr's up-tempo rock arrangement of J.S. Bach's "Toccata in D Minor".
It really was a splendid concert - the best yet - and only one week after the hugely successful School Production of "Annie". It was hard work for the the pupils and staff alike but enjoyed immensely by the appreciative audience.
The Big Band have had a busy few months with performances in a joint concert organised by the Rotary Club with the Staffordshire County Youth Orchestra and a Jazz Concert in Newcastle-Under-Lyme with two other Staffordshire Youth Big Bands.
Performing music such as Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and latin numbers such as "Tiger of San Pedro" the Big Band delighted the audience. The tight and powerful sound was commented upon by many as they left the concert. This is especially pleasing as the band was only established in September 2010.
Concert Band in Concert with St. Dominic's Primary School
The SGS Concert Band were in concert at the St. Dominic's Priory Church in Stone and were delighted to be joined with the Primary School. The concert was very well attended and, as always, there was a lovely encouraging atmosphere for the Primary School children to enjoy. A considerable sum of money was also arranged from this concert (which was organised by SGS Clarinetist Richard Cumberlidge - Year 9) for the restoration of the church roof.
The Band delighted the audience with an eclectic selection of music from the Shows, the Movies, popular Classics and original pieces for Concert Band.
Music Festival 2011
Our third annual Music Festival was adjudicated by Ben Kennedy (West End Musician and Musical Director currently working on "The Wizard of Oz" at London Palladium) and the evening lived up top its promise. The competition was fiercely contested with our 20 musicians performing an eclectic mix of music. The eventual winners in the Junior category (Nicholls Junior Trophy) were 1st - Dominic Sterland, 2nd - James Bevan, 3rd - Harry Handford. The Senior Category (Taylor Senior Cup) was won by by 1st - Adam Handford, 2nd - Sarah Knight, 3rd - Laura Thomas.
Christmas Concert 2010
Stafford Grammar School Sports Hall was the venue for the Music Departments annual Christmas Concert. As is customary at school concerts, the hall was transformed into a concert hall with the typically stunning lights, and there was an eager anticipation as the 400 strong audience gathered on the cold, frosty evening.
The orchestra started the evening with "A Festival of Carols" before the choir presented two songs in contrast. The second was a beautiful performance of a contemporary Christmas song: "Who would imagine a King?". The first half also featured a first performance of an arrangement for the recorders of the ABBA hit "Mama Mia" by teacher of Science Mr Beauchamp. The audience were treated to three sixth form "soloists" as Jonathan Timbrell performed Debussy's "Valse Romantique" and Emma Kelly and Katie Fair presented the vocal duet "Winter's Tale".
The Percussion Ensemble performed "The Carol of the Bells" and the first half also featured pieces from the Flute group ("Winter Wonderland") and Saxophone Ensemble ("Hit the Road Jack!"). But one of the highlights of the first half was the first performance given in a school concert by our Big Band. They played "Baby it's cold outside" and a swing arrangement of "Jingle Bells" before the Orchestra concluded with Christmas music by Holst.
The second half started with the Concert Band as they played the Erik Leidzen march "Christmas Joy". The 60+ members were joined by members of the Preparatory School who have been learning to play the Clarinet for the last year. More music from the Choir, Percussion Ensemble and the Junior Flute group before the Chamber Choir presented another new work written especially for them by Mr Craig, another SGS teacher. The Concert Band also played the colourful "Dashing through the Snow" before the evening ended with the Concert Band playing "A Rhapsody of Carols" and the audience joining the band in singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
As everyone left the hall and stepped into the cold December night it was clear that they had enjoyed an evening of Christmas music.
As has become customary in recent years the Music Department has been very busy over the Christmas period. As well as the school concert, our ensembles have performed concerts in local churches, in and around Stafford, in hotels and residential homes as well as playing carols at local supermarkets. Here is a selection of our performances:
Victorian Christmas Market
Friday 26th November 2010
Wednesday 1st December 2010
Market Square, Stafford
Late night shopping
Thursday 2nd December 2010
St. Mary's Church, Stafford
Orchestra and Recorders
Thursday 2nd December 2010
Harper Adams University
Sunday 5th December 2010
Wednesday 8th December 2010
Clock of Heroes - Unveiling Ceremony
At the invitation of the Mayor, Stafford Grammar School Concert Band performed at the unveiling ceremony of the "Clock of Heroes" in Mill Street, Stafford. The clock was erected in memory of the soldiers from Stafford who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their life whilst fighting for their country.
Sadly the television news crew never made it due to long delays on the M6 motorway, but it was a morning that was not about the "raz-a-mataz".
The Concert Band performed Elgar's "Nimrod" from his "Enigma Variations" and also an arrangement of the hymn "Lord for the Years" before the audience gathered on a wet and blustery November morning. It was a privilege for the band to be invited to perform at such a special ceremony and, in our own way, pay our own respects to those who have died in conflict.