|STAFFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL|
The Music Department presents over 40 concert each year. Here are just a few reports from recent events.
SGS Orchestra and Chamber Choir at St. Mary's Church, Stafford - December 2016
On Friday the second of December, the Stafford Grammar School Orchestra and Chamber Choir performed at the Christmas Tree Festival at St. Mary’s Church in Stafford. St. Mary’s church is a core component of the local community and spreads a welcoming spirit to all. The Christmas Tree Festival is an annual event where all can gather to celebrate the Christmas spirit. The school ensembles played a wide selection of Christmas themed pieces ranging from traditional carols to a busy audience that filled the church pews. Surrounding the audience were a selection of Christmas trees (over 90 of them!) that had been displayed by the church as well as many of the well-known businesses that operate in Stafford, forming the great community that exists today in our town. The session clearly demonstrates how the church can bring people together in happiness and the event was enjoyed by all.
George Edge - Year 11
Photographs sent in by Mr Edge (George's Father)
SGS Concert Band and Big Band at the NCBF Regionals - November 2016
The concert band and big band travelled to Oldham on November 20th to represent the school in the regional leg of the National Concert Band Finals. After a number of hours rehearsing inside and outside of school time, every member of both ensembles performed incredibly. A very successful performance led to us achieving a gold award with the concert band and a platinum with the big band. We look forward to the nationals with excitement and high hopes!
Chan Kathuria - Upper 6th
SGS Concert Band in concert with Stafford Military Wives Choir - October 2016
Report to Follow
SGS Big Band at Stoke Moat House - September 2016
Last Saturday our school Big Band was asked to perform a short set at a black tie event. The event was organized in order to raise money towards pancreatic cancer research and care for those suffering from the illness. We played approximately 10 pieces to a very receptive and appreciative audience. It was very rewarding to play and the night was a success. Thank you to the organisers for allowing us to take part!
Chan Kathuria (Upper 6th)
Concert Band Tour to Prague - July 2016
In the first week of the Summer holidays, the School Concert Band toured Prague for a week. We played four concerts including one at Dvorak's private concert hall. Apart from that we toured round the City, taking a look round Dvorak's museum, as well as taking a well earned break at a Water Park on the penultimate day. It was a great tour packed with fun!
Charlotte Howdle (Year 11)
Choral Day 2016 - June 2016
SGS Music Department welcomed record numbers for an event that has become an incredible success. When Mr Lamplough founded the event 7 years ago we could not have known what it would grow into. This year we welcomed 350 children and in the evening an audience of 800 parents and friends filled the sports hall. Many of these people were visiting Stafford Grammar School for the very first time and they got to enjoy a wonderful celebration of music. The guest leaders (Ula Weber, Stephanie Lamplough, Themba Mvula and our very own Mrs Farmer) took the children through songs during the day and then the choirs "sang their hearts out" in the evening concert. We welcomed children from Cooper Perry, Bishop Lonsdale, Our Lady and St. Werbergh's, Burton Manor, Parkside, St. Michael's First, St. Paul's, Stafford Prep. and Stafford Grammar School this year - we thank the children for a wonderful day that will live long in the memory!
Big Band Roadshow - June 2016
The SGS Big Band was "on the road" once again. Each June, durng the last week of term, the band visits 4 Primary Schools and this year the band visited Barnfields (Stafford), Churchfields (Rugeley), St. Luke's (Cannock) and Gorsemoor (Cannock) and the children at each of these schools enjoyed a 30 minute concert from the Big Band. The concerts were designed to entertain and to educate the children on the instruments in the group. At he end of each concert Mr Lamplough asked who might want to take up an instrument having listened to the band. Judging by the sea of hands these Primary Schools will have a Symphony Orchestra next academic year!
Orchestra and SPS Choir at St. Mary's - April 2016
"What a wonderful concert!" "What talented pupils!"........just some of the comments that were uttered as people left St. Mary's CHurch in Stafford after a stunning evening of music provided by the SGS Orchestra and the SPS Choir. The orchestra wowed the audience with Classical masterpieces such as the Overture from "Russlan and Ludmilla", John Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine", Holst's magnificent "Mars" from his "Planets Suite" and Faure's beautiful "Pavane". The repertoire was incredibly difficult but it provided a platform for the Orchestra, its outstanding soloists and conductor Mr Lamplough to show what an impressive outfit it really is. Just stunning!
The Prep. School choir sing with such enthusiasm and clarity that they are always likely to steal the show! A great choice of songs, beautiful presented and the enthusiasm of these young musicians means that whilst the present is as good as it has gets, the future is very bright indeed!
Concert Band at NCBF National Finals 2016 - April 2016
Back in April this year, the SGS Concert Band headed to the NCBF National Finals at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The possible awards were bronze, silver, gold and platinum. After a solid performance from the whole band and mesmorizing solo performances from Charlottle Howdle (violin), Leah Banwell (voice), Meera Mahesh (oboe), Harry Handford (voice) and Alanagh Bohan (piccolo), the band were awarded the very prestigious platinum award by the judges. The performance was extremely tight, especially from the percussion section who suffered from faulty equipment mid - performance yet continued flowingly, not failing to impress the judges. We were astonished to come away with the platinum award, especially as it was a national final. Fantastic work from the whole band, well done to everyone involved.
By Chan Kathuria
SGS Easter Concert - March 2016
The SGS Easter Concert took place on the 22nd March 2016, it included performances from school music groups and solo performances from our upper sixth leavers, showcasing their musical skills. There was an eclectic mix of music from the school orchestra including pieces such as Mars from The Planets by Holst. The Concert Band also performed pieces such as Jericho Revisited, with narration by Chris Becker. There were multiple solo performances from Lara Thomas (Piano), Molly Darley (Saxophone), Matthew Jackman (Trumpet), Harry Handford and his band Spilt Milk Society and Olivia Botting alongside the school’s String Quartet. The Choir performed For Good from the musical Wicked and The Lord Bless You and Keep You, with vocal solos from Leah Banwell and Milly Yates.
Milly Yates (L6)
Newcastle Music Festival - March 2016
The Newcastle Music Festival took place over two days. Friday night saw the SGS Choir and the Barbershop Quartet, and on Saturday the Concert Band, the Big Band and the Saxophone Quartet. The Choir, Concert Band, Big Band and Saxophone Quartet were all awarded First Place, and the Barbershop Quartet were awarded Second Place. The Concert Band were also awarded the overall festival trophy. Overall it was a successful couple of days.
Milly Yates (L6)
Orchestra win at Worcester Music Festival - March 2016
Report to Follow
Music for Youth Regionals - Birmingham Conservatoire - March 2016
Report to Follow
Music Festival Final - February 2016
The Music Festival Final was a very exciting event. It consisted of 20 students – 10 playing in the junior section and 10 in the senior section. After outstanding performances from all the contestants, the judge for evening (Mike Davies, West End and London Session Saxophonist) gave constructive feedback to everyone involved, followed by the results being announced. In the junior section, in 3rd place was Molly Harriman, 2nd Alanagh Bohan, and 1st Charlottle Howdle. As for the seniors, in 3rd place was Leah Banwell, in 2nd place (joint) were Lara Thomas and Harry Handford, and finally in 1st place was Milly Yates. The night was filled with outstanding performances from the elite musicians that the school holds. Well done to everyone involved.
By Chan Kathuria
Chamber Concerts - 2015/16
Report to Follow
BBC Radio Broadcast - December 2015
Report to Follow
SGS Christmas Concert - December 2015
Report to Follow
SGS Concert Band shines again at NCBF Regionals 2015 - November 2015
Molly Darley (Year 13) writes....
The SGS Concert Band delighted the judges at the regional area for the National Concert Band Festival 2015. With all of the North West bands competing to achieve either a Bronze, silver, Gold or Platinum award, the SGS concert band wowed the audience and adjudicators alike with a varied programme and excellent performances that won the Platinum medal, which is reserved for truly outstanding performances, and an automatic qualification to the National Finals. The finals will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2016.
The band featured four pieces in their programme all in contrast. The first was ‘Prelude for an Occasion” by the English composer, Edward Gregson. This was followed by the first and third movements from “Cry of the Celts” by Peter Graham, within this we featured year 10 pupil Charlotte Howdle and year 11 pupil Meera Mahesh on oboe. Our third piece was a set piece written for a competition at Royal Northern College of Music last year, where the winning piece was chosen to be the set piece at the national finals of NCBF in 2015 and then a set piece again for the regional festival in November 2015. This was entitled “Dreaming of Dreams” by Thomas Kelly. Our final piece was a medley of music from the Incredibles with jazz influences; this was arranged by Michael Giacchino and gave a very energetic end to our programme.
The platinum award gained is an excellent achievement for this band which was only established 7 years ago and we are very excited to perform in the finals in April, lots of hard work and rehearsals will take place between now and then as we will be competing with some of the best bands in the country. Well done to everyone involved.
(Molly Darley - Year 13)
SGS Choir at the Lichfield Music Festival - November 2015
Lara Thomas (Year 13) writes....
Earlier this month, the Choir was entered to perform in the Lichfield Festival, which was held on the 14th of November. They were up against two other choirs, and sang two very contrasting pieces to emphasise the different styles that we can perform. The first piece that we sang was ‘Surely’, which the Choir was already very familiar with, having performed it last year in ‘The Messiah’ at the Royal Albert Hall. Our second piece was ‘Get Happy’, which certainly lightened the mood within the audience, and even included some dance choreography! This was so well received that the Choir were asked to perform it again after all of the other choirs had sung. We were awarded second in our category, but enjoyed further success when we were invited to also sing at the winner’s concert that was held the following week. Overall, it was a very successful morning for the Choir and a very enjoyable experience for all who were involved.
(Lara Thomas - Year 13)
SGS Saxophones in Gnosall - October 2015
Molly Darley (Year 13) writes......
On a bleak Saturday evening at the beginning of October, the saxophone quartet were invited to perform a full set as the evening’s entertainment for the Harvest diner at Gnosall Methodist Church. The set included pieces such as ‘When the saints go marching in’, ‘we plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘Charleston’. 3 vocal soloists were also featured at request from the organisers which brought the evening together nicely. We received many positive comments and it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
(Molly Darley, Year 13)
CD Recording - September 2015
Report to Follow
SGS Concert Band in MFY National Final - July 2015
Lara Thomas (Year 13) writes.......
In July, the Concert band were invited to take part in the Music For Youth National Final, held at Symphony Hall in Birmingham. They performed three pieces, one of which was an atmospheric piece called ‘Earthdance’ which sounded amazing in the Syphony Hall accoustic. The other piece in our set was ‘Breezin' Down Broadway’, a medley of popular Broadway music. This was really well-received by the audience. It was a very successful day for the Concert Band. We won the Innovation Award and also received some very positive comments, both from the adjudicators and from everyone who came to support. It was a great experience and honour to play in the National Final with the best bands in the UK!
(Lara Thomas, Year 13)
SGS Big Band at Upton Jazz Festival - June 2015
Report to Follow
SGS Choral Day 2015 - June 2015
Evie Scholes (Year 9) writes......
We all gathered in the hall at 12.30pm and once the other primary schools came into the hall there was an instant buzz and positive vibe amongst the pupils. Mr Lamplough then introduced the various leaders. The Grammar School students split up and helped with different schools. It was fantastic seeing the different schools interacting, making new friends and having a good time. We then spent the whole afternoon singing the pieces with our leader, receiving vocal help meaning that everyone learnt something new from the experience. Once we had finished practising we all went into the hall together to practise and the sounds we made were rich in sound. The choir was huge! There were over 300 children from local Primary Schools in addition to our own choir so it sounded great in the hall.
Everyone then went for dinner outside and we could see a sea of different colours from the blazers of the children all playing together. Then came concert time, with a packed hall (almost 1000 people in the audience!) everyone was excited and willing to perform to their best standard possible. Each choir perfomed with the leader they had worked with and each one performed excellently. Then we all sang together as a massed choir and the sounds were amazing! We received a big cheer and clap from the families of the children. We all then cleared off the stage, went upstairs, said our goodbyes and went home cherishing the memories we had made that day.
(Evie Scholes, Year 9)
SGS Concert Band helps town remember VE Day - June 2015
Rebecca and Katie Deakin write........
Stafford Grammar School Concert Band had the privilege of performing in the VE Day celebrations hosted by St. Mary's Church in Stafford. The commemorative event included many flag bearers and war vetrans - it was a real sight to behold! The band played a selection of marches including "Death or Glory" as well as a selection of War time tunes. The band were also joined by the organ for the hymns and the Gordon Jacob arrangement of the National Anthem. Everyone was humbled by the occasion and it will no doubt form a lasting memory for all particpants.
(Rebecca and Katie Deakin - Upper 6th)
SGS Concert Band returns to Rugeley Fundraiser - May 2015
Olivia Botting (Year 13) writes.....
On a mild evening in mid May the Stafford Grammar Concert Band performed in Lea Hall in Rugeley, a concert to raise awareness for Alziemers charities. The performance was well received by a large audience-so large there was standing room only when we began playing. We opened the concert with ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from the musical ‘Hairspray’ which, as a first piece, already had audience members dancing in their seats. The concert went from strength to strength and during the first half finale of a ‘Frozen’ medley (the blockbuster Disney film which came out in November 2014), we even had people singing along to the band! We concluded the concert with ‘Breezin’ down Broadway,’ one of our competition pieces for this year, as it held many different recognizable melodies from the heyday of Musical Theatre, and this piece received a standing ovation at the last note. The organiser of the event formally thanked us after the performance, and gave a speech on the importance of raising awareness for such an honourable cause. This led many members of the band to thank her in turn for allowing us to support these charities in our own musical way.
(Olivia Botting - Year 13)
SGS Concert Band at NCBF Finals - April 2015
Having enjoyed success at the regionals in Northampton back in November the Concert Band made the trip up to Manchester with great anticipation for the first appearance at the National Finals for the NCBF. The quality of the bands on show was just remarkable and the SGS Concert Band more than "held their own"! Performing "Rainbow Warrior", "Dreaming of Dreams" and "Breezin' Down Broadway", the band were awarded the Silver and should be very proud of their achievements this year. It was also wonderful to perform in the new multi-million pound concert hall at the Royal Northern College of Music - a fantastic experience in itself!
SGS Easter Concert - April 2015
Each year we think that this concert can’t get any better, but yet again we are amazed at the high standard of playing from our musicians. Our leavers soloists gave superb performances, with Adam Rowley getting a standing ovation for his fantastic guitar playing. The Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, 1st movement and then Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", from the original score was one of the pinnacle moments of this musical year, demonstrating how quickly the department is progressing.
SGS Music Department 'clear up' at the Newcastle Music Festival - March 2015
Our sweep of first places started with the Prep School choir on Friday afternoon, soon followed by SGS main choir winning their class and the SGS Junior Choir completing a hat-trick! Friday evening also saw a heated contest where both our Barber Shop Ensemble and our Female Voices Group fought out for a place in the same Open Class. The boys won with the girls obtaining a very close second; both were delighted.
Georgie McKinley, Simon Ashwood, Nina Fitton & Matthew Murray were all placed in their respective solo singing classes.
Success continued on the Saturday when Concert Band gave a fantastic performance & the adjudicator declared them the clear winners. The Sax Ensemble performed a very intricate piece called Jersey Bounce and walked away with yet another first place trophy. One more to go and it was the Open Class, so no pressure was put on the Big Band to make it a clean sweep (much!). They of course came up trumps and we now need a larger trophy cabinet! The final trophy of the day came when the Concert Band performed in the Festival Final and were crowned overall Festival Winners for the second consecutive year. Well done everyone.
SGS Pupils go "Into the Woods" for the week - March 2015
Often seen as the highlight of the school’s extra-curricular calendar, 2015 did not disappoint. After tackling the intricacies of ‘West Side Story’ in 2014, this year saw Stafford Grammar’s biggest challenge yet; Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’. It was held in the first week of March and proved to be a massive success with everyone who was involved performing to a professional standard.
Concert Band at MFY Regionals - March 2015
The Music for Youth competition is a national festival of music that is open to ensembles of any description. The Concert Band were fortunate to perform in their regional qualifier in the magnificent Adrian Boult Hall at Birmingham Conservatoire. It is a great acoustic and the band rose to the occasion! They performed brilliantly playing “Breezin’ Down Broadway” to open their programme before James Bevan played the Saxophone Solo “Harlem Nocturne” demonstrating the fantastic soloists that we have in the band. The final piece was a brand new arrangement made especially for the competition of “Uptown Funk” complete with audience participation. This was a great end to the own-choice programme and won the band a first appearance in the National Final at Birmingha’s prestigious Symphony Hall in July. This will be a wonderful occasion and an amazing end to an amazing year!!
SGS Music Festival - February 2015
The annual music festival never fails to provide a simply breath-taking evening of music, and this year it exceeded itself. The adjudicator, James Fountain, holds the principal trumpet seat for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and was appointed whilst still in his third year studying at the prestigious Guildhall. The winner of the Junior Section, playing violin, was Charlotte Howdle for the second year running; her take on F. Kreisler’s Praeludium und Allegro was nothing less than outstanding. The winner of the Senior Section was Eleanor Sterland who sang beautifully. The night featured a magnificent range of instruments from the trumpet to the trombone and the bassoon to the glockenspiel which really illustrates the diversity of talent amongst our pupils.
SGS Chamber Concerts - February 2015
The music department put on a series of chamber concerts throughout this academic year to exemplify the peripatetic work that goes on at Stafford Grammar School. There were evenings specialising in Percussion, Singing, Strings, Piano, Woodwind and – due to the high number of saxophonists at the school – a separate Saxophone evening.
Christmas Concert - December 2014
The Christmas Concert was described as the best yet by those who attended in the final week of term. A culmination of a busy festive season for our musicians with approximately 15 Christmas music events throughout December, the concert was a huge success and was watched by over 400 people. The Orchestra, now an outstanding group with 6 musicians representing the SGS Music Department in National ensembles, delighted the audience with festive music and the Big Band were in top form as they had feet tapping around the auditorium! It was wonderful to hear the choirs flourishing under new leadership with Mrs Lamplough (SGS Choir) and Mrs Farmer (Chamber Choir) enjoying debut performances with their groups in full school concerts. The choir delighted the audience with "And the Glory" from Handel's "Messiah" - and what a fantastic job they did too! Other highlights were certainly the Saxophone Ensemble and their dynamic performance thrilled the audience.
The second half got underway with the newly-formed Wind Band (Mrs Farmer) which is a group featuring the younger wind players in our school. They did a fabulous job in their two pieces before the award winning Concert Band took centre stage showing everyone present why they were recently awarded a place in the National final of the National Concert Band Festival. There was an exquisite performance of Bach's Double Violin Concerto (2nd Mvt) by Charlotte Howdle and Georgina Mabey accompanied by our String Orchestra which was just sublime! Joe Barnes (U.6) gave an excellent performance of the "Intermezzo" from Cavalliera Rusticana as his "Swan-song" performance before the Concert Band brought the evening to a close.
There was much more but the perfect summing-up of the night was by one visiting musician who was attending their first Christmas Concert at SGS and said "normally it's an excellent school Christmas concert if there are a few outstanding performances but there were no weak moments! I was waiting for it but it never came! The standard is just astonishing and I only wish I had brought others to witness it! Unbelievable!". Sounds like she had a good night then!
SGS Music department wishes you a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Thanks for your support through 2014 and we'll see you for more music in 2015!
Follow this link to see what the music department has been up to!
Orchestra and Chamber Choir at St. Mary's - December 2014
The Orchestra and Chamber Choir returned to St. Mary's to give their annual Christmas lunchtime concert. A large crowd gathered to hear arrangements featuring familiar carols such as "Silent Night" and "I wonder as I wander" from the choir and they were treated to festive music from the Orchestra including Anderson's "Sleigh Ride", Berlin's "White Christmas" and "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers".
The church was typically decked for this time of year in Christmas trees donated by local schools and businesses and this community spirit was tangible for our visit. It is always a great pleasure to perform at St. Mary's butparticularly for this Christmas event.
Choir sing their hearts out at the Royal Albert Hall - November 2014
Mrs Lamplough took on the leadership of the SGS choir in September in addition to her responsibilities as singing teacher, SPS Choir leader and SPS music teacher. The choir has been working very hard this term preparing Handel's epic score "The Messiah". It has been a wonderful experience for our young choristers and the culmination of this hard work was when they perfomed "The Messiah" as part of a 1000-strong chorus at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall in London. This iconic concert venue presented a once in a lifetime opportutnity for our musicians that cannot fail to inspire them to perform.
Watch highlights of the day by following this link to our YouTube channel:
Percussion Evening - November 2014
SGS has a dynamic percussion department and with nearly 4 days of percussion teaching each week at SGS there are a lot of people learning to play the drum kit and tuned percussion. With two fantastic teachers in Mr Davies and Mr Farmer students have expert tuition every week and this was evident in the recent Percussion Concert. As part of our 2014/15 Chamber Music series this concert attracted a good audience and they were not to be disappointed. Young percussionists from both the Prep. and Grammar Schools performed a wide variety of music from Grade 1 to Grade 8 standard and it reflected a wide range of genre. There were also a number of ensemble pieces to add further variety to the concert.
Thanks to the staff and students for such a wonderful evening and for the hard work that is done week in, week out.
SGS Concert Band in stunning form at National Concert Band Festival 2014 - November 2014
Just a few days after an enjoyable concert at Trinity Church (Stafford) the SGS Concert Band delighted the judges at the area competition for the National Concert Band Festival 2014. With all of the Midlands bands battling it out to grab a bronze, silver or gold medal and qualification for the National Finals it was a tough ask for our SGS musicians but they wowed the audience and adjudicators alike with stunning performances that won the Platinum medal, which is reserved for truly outstanding performances, and an automatic qualification to the National Finals. The finals will take place at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2015.
The band featured four pieces in their programme all in contrast. The first was an upbeat rock number entitled "Dance Like David" written by Nuneaton-based Headteacher and Salvation Army musician Andrew Mackereth. They followed this by featuring 6th former James Bevan on Alto Saxophone in the much loved "Harlem Nocturne" before performing their major work "Earthdance" by Michael Sweeney. This really showed that the band could not only entertain but also deliver breath-taking accuracy in this descriptive programme music. They finished with "a bang" with the "fireworks" provided by Goff Richards' "Breezin' Down Broadway" which is full of energy and virtuoso playing as scintillating semiquaver runs displayed the technique of our fine band.
The adjudicators were so impressed with the standard of the SGS band's playing that they were awarded the Platinum award and an automatic qualification to the National Finals. What an achievement for this young band that was only established 6 years ago and is from a relatively small school. Well done to everyone involved!
Concert Band answer Royal Call - October 2014
The TV cameras were out in force as were the paparazzi for local and national press as the SGS Music Department played a major part in the county hosting HRH the Countess of Wessex. The occasion was to pay tribute to the women who served in the 2nd World War Land Army and many Land Girls were in attendance to see a new bronze statue unveiled. The SGS Music Department have performed a number of times for fundraising events in recent years as money was raised to sculp this wonderful tribute and so it was a great privilege to be invited to play at this prestigious event.
The service of remembrance and dedication was led by the Chaplain to the Tower of London and SGS accompanied the 2 hymns as well as leading the 1000 strong audience in the National Anthem. The band also provided 30 minutes of music to entertain the crowds prior to the arrival of HRH. After the service the band moved inside to play at the reception when HRH met and talked at length with the Land Girls. Her final "stop-off" was to spend time chatting to the band and expressing her pleasure at hearing the SGS musicians perform.
These words were echoed many times throughout the day by the hundreds who had gathered. The band featured music at the reception which evoked memories for the Land Girls with familiar wartime melodies including "We'll Meet Again", "White Cliffs of Dover" and "The Lambeth Walk" whilst the Countess chatted to guests. There were many smiles on a truly inspiring day and lots of sing-alongs at the reception as the Land Girls enjoyed their well-deserved special day.
Strings Concert - October 2014
We featured the Strings in the first of our Chamber Concert series 2014/15 and what a night it was! Stafford Grammar School boasts an astonishing amount of talent in our String Department and Mrs Stanley gathered much of it for this concert. Solo items, the SGS string orchestra and the SPS string group were featured and our young musicians ranged from those who have been playing for just 12 months to four instrumentalists who represent our school in National ensembles.
Saxophone Quartet and Saxophone Ensemble perform at OXJAM - October 2014
Miss Lamplough (SGS Saxophone teacher) took her young saxophonists to perform in the prestigious OXJAM at the Stafford Gatehouse. OXJAM is a national music festival and Staffordshire certainly did a great job in adding to the experience with a host of quality acts delighting audiences at several venues across the county. It was particularly pleasing, therefore, to receive the request to perform from the organisers who had heard of the reputation of the SGS Music Department.
The Saxophone ensemble under the leadership of Miss Lamplough played a variety of music including a brand new work in a contemporary jazz style with added drum kit and bass guitar backing. The Saxophone Quartet also added a touch of class with their repertoire - a group that continues to impress under Miss Lamplough's direction and will no doubt be looking towards further competition success this year.
Battle of the Bands 2014 - October 2014
A hotly fought contest was once again enjoyed by the crowd gather for the annual SGS Battle of the Bands. The eventual winners were Year 9 band "The Wolfpack" but they were give a tough battle to win the title from "Callback" featuring 6th former Adam Rowley and "Flux" featuring Harry Handford, Chan Kathuria and Dom Sterland. These were excellent bands playing typical music for an occasion such as this but it was upper sixth former Georgie Mabey who delighted the audience with a song of contrast. Her cool jazz version of "All About that Bass" which featured piano, drums and a double bass was a moment to cherish! "Anonymous" and "Jammin' Sandwiches" were also in fine form as were the staff bands, which attracted a lot of attention as usual. One band even played on instruments designed and constructed in the SGS DT workshop!
Special thanks to Mr Dale for assisting Mr Lamplough in this much anticipated annual event and a special thanks for Mr Dale's performance whilst the results were being counted.
Well done "Wolfpack"!
Chamber Choir sing at the request of the High Sheriff - October 2014
The Chamber Choir delivered a beautiful performance at St. Mary's Church, Stafford at the invite of the High Sheriff of Staffordshire. The law courts opening ceremony is held three times each year and each time a guest choir is invited to perform. This is the second time that the SGS choir has been invited in recent years and they did not disappoint! They sang beautifully and the wonderful acoustic of St. Mary's enhance their singing. The ceremony always features fanfare trumpets with our very own Mr Lamplough and Mr Nevins always playing in the ensemble. It was quite a SGS occasion as far as the music was concerned!
Concert Band gives 5 concerts in Barcelona - July 2014
The Concert Band enjoyed a 7 day tour of Spain giving 5 concerts during the first week of the holidays. Departing Stafford and flying from Heathrow airport on the 1st July, the band was eagerly anticipating a wonderful experience filled with great music - that is exactly what they got! From brilliant sight-seeing trips to lots of laughs with friends and fellow band members there was much to enjoy. But, as in our previous foreign tours, it was the music which was our main priority and was certainly the greatest highlight.
The concerts were very well attended and the band showed real consistency in their performances. The young musicians performed five concerts and got five standing ovations - that is perhaps the perfect way to sum up the standard of the playing! Well done to the Concert Band.
Choral Day 2014 - June 2014
Choral Day 2014 was certainly the best yet!! We always enjoy a great "take up" from our local schools but this year saw record numbers in attendance. A choir of over 300 local choristers gathered in teh Stafford Grammar School Sports Hall to meet the guest leaders for the day. After that it was time to start work with our leaders and the pupils really work hard learning 3 songs during the afternoon.
Phillip Lawson is an award winning singer and composer of choral music and sang for many years with the Kings' Singers. He worked on some Traditional songs which he has recently had published with his group and the young singers certainly rose to the challenge.
Ruth Roberts is a Choral Animateur from Birmingham and works with choirs across the city. She was trained at Birmingham Conservatoire and is currently the Head of Vocal for Birmingham Music Service. She put the pupils "through their paces" with a popular songs from the charts and TV alongside a native African song.
We were delighted to welcome back Stephanie Lamplough again. We are most fortunate to have Mrs Lamplough as our singing teacher at Stafford Grammar School she demonstrates each year that her reputation is fully justified. She taught the children in her choir a difficult arrangement of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" alongside a wonderfully atmpospheric song called "Listen to the Rain". She also took on the responsibility for leading the massed choir of over 300 voices - they sang "Sing" made famous by Gary Barlow.
The fourth choir was led by Mr Lamplough, Director of Music at SGS. His choir gave an excellent performance of "O Happy Day" and "Count Your Blessings" which was full of energy and enthusiasm.
The evening concert was supported by the SGS Concert Band in ther final performance before embarking on a 7 day tour of Spain. They certainly brought the house down and the prolonged applause after their playing left the young band in no doubt that their contributions had been appreciated. However the 700 strong audience were treated to an exquisite finale led by Stephanie Lamplough as the massed choir sang "Sing". It was a beautiful sound and was the perfect way to round off a wonderful SGS Coral Day 2014.
Big Band Roadshow 2014 - June 2014
As the term drew to a close the SGS Big Band toured Staffordshire once again visiting four schools. The band started the day in Newcastle-under-Lyme at Edenhurst Prep. School before travelling a few miles down the road to Our Lady and St. Werbergh's Primary School. After a "fish n chip" lunch the band moved to Eccleshall to play for the children at Bishop Lonsdale Primary and the final stop of the day was at Parkside Primary on the north side of Stafford. The band were very well received at all of the schools they visited and performed to approximately 700 people that day. It is our hope that the children who heard our music not only enjoyed it but might also be inspired to take up an instrument too!
Concert Band perform at Stafford Music Festival - 13th May 2014
For the 6th year running Stafford Grammar School Music Department was delighted to feature in the Stafford Music Festival programme of events. The Music Festival is renowned throughout the Midlands and attracts performers from professional ensembles such as the Manchester Camerata to local Choral Societies. School groups do not often feature and so it is a great privilege for SGS to have featured for so many years.
This year the Concert Band were given Stafford’s White Eagle Club as a venue and this proved to be an excellent venue. The Band invited three Stone Primary School choirs to sing four songs in the middle of the programme and the children sang beautifully. The band was in fine form and the capacity crowd evidently enjoyed the new additions to the band’s repertoire ahead of their tour to Spain in July. The Beatles Medley, Espana Cani and Breezin’ Down Broadway were all greeted with rousing applause and even “whoops” of delight! The encore of “lord of the dance” received the biggest applause of the night as the band tried to break the record for the quickest rendition yet! It is under 2 minutes now!
From the people of Stafford, a huge thank you to the organizers of this festival.
Concert Band perform for the Mayor of Stafford - 10th May 2014
The Concert Band was privileged to be chosen to perform at a special Stafford ceremony. It was both the occasion of the installation of the new Mayor of Stafford and the 400th Anniversary of a Mayor in the County town.
The band performed for 30 minutes to dignitaries on stage at Stafford’s Gatehouse Theatre before moving to St. Mary’s Church where the band featured prominently in the church service. It was a busy morning but was extremely well received by those present.
Concert Band perform in Rugeley - 2nd May 2014
The Concert Band was delighted to return to Lea Hall Social Club in Rugeley for what was to be another fantastic night performing to another sell out crowd. The hall was packed with an expectant audience as the band started the concert with Andrew Mackereth's "Dance like David" before they changed the mood with "Shenandoah" and Goff Richards' high energy "Breezin' Down Broadway". The enthusiastic crowd was made up of local people who had come to listen to the band on the strength of last years concert and by the sounds of the prolonged applause and standing ovations they were not disappointed!
Further contributions from the band included "Selections from Chicago", "Music of the Beatles", "The Best of Bond" and "Death or Glory". The audience responded really well to "Earthdance" which is different from most repertoire as it does not contain a familiar melody, but the rain effects and atmospheric earth sounds captured the audiences attention. The band also featured some Spanish music as a foretaste of their 7 day tour to Barcelona in July.
The Concert Band was delighted to hear a selection of songs from the Rugeley Academies' Vocal Ensemble in the concert. The concert ended with a massed item as the band were joined by the choir in "You Can't Stop the Beat". Thank you to the organisers for the invite and for organising such a great concert.
Easter Concert 2014 - April 2014
The Easter Concert was yet another showcase for our very talented musicians. The Orchestra, Concert Band, Choirs, Big Band and a number fo chamber ensembles features in a truly memorable concert. One member of the audience remarked "Wow! The best ever, I think! Just as I think it can't get any better...." and this just about summed up the performances that the pupils gave. All of the ensembles featured new music ranging from the Concert Band's first outing of "Earthdance" (an original contemporary composition for wind orchestra), the Big Band featured Adam Handford as a vocal soloist in Michael Buble's arrangement of "Cry Me a River" and the Orchestra featured the magnificent "Jupiter" from Gustaf Holst's "The Planets". This was a highlight of the evening and the orchestra played wonderfully in this hugely demanding work.
It was also an opportunity to hear our leavers for the last time as Adam Handford, Eleanor Sterland, Joe Yates and Rebecca Kohler presented solos.
Newcastle-Under-Lyme Music Festival 2014 - March 2014
We had a number of successes on Saturday at the Newcastle Music Festival. The groups we took were the Concert Band, Big Band (Jazz Band) and Saxophone Quartet and they were competing against school, area and even more mature groups from Staffordshire and Cheshire.
The early morning draw was the Saxophone Quartet competing in the Instrumental Ensemble (age 19 and under) and they delivered a winning performance of Benny Goodman’s “Jersey Bounce” to claim the Morris Trophy and gain a place in the final. Next it was the turn of the Concert Band who will be performing 5 concerts in Barcelona in just a few months time. They were given the rarely awarded top grading for their performance of "Selections from the show “Chicago”" and the high octane and highly technical “Lord of the Dance” and won the Festival Trophy and a place in the final. In the final the Concert Band came out overall festival winners, winning the Joan Taylor Memorial Trophy and a cash prize. The final SGS group to perform were the Big Band who performed Latin Jazz pieces “Sway” and “The Tiger of San Pedro”. In a large category they fought of the competition from 7 bands who represented not only other schools but also experienced groups of adult musicians to win the class.
In the adjudication he said that the SGS ensembles sounded like professional groups and showed remarkable maturity in their consistency and musicality. Many of the large audience that gathered commented on the entertaining programme and high quality of the music making. Conductors from opposing groups even wrote in to the school to congratulate the bands.
Whilst some would argue that competitive music-making holds some risk in terms of pupil morale and confidence our experience at Stafford Grammar School has only been a positive one. Whilst Saturday was an extremely positive experience for our musicians as they performed to an exceptionally high standard and achieved a “clean sweep” of 4 first placed trophies, they have also had occasions when they have not been 1st prize winners in terms of silverware. But it is on these occasions that they have learned more about their music-making and their general deportment. This was evident in both their music and their reaction to their success on Saturday. We were very proud of them in all that they did. At Stafford Grammar School we perform over 30 concerts each year but we value the opportunity to perform in competitive events such as this as it really serves to focus the pupils musically.
Photo L-R: Back Row - Adam Handford (U6), Mr G. Lamplough (Director of Music) and James Bevan (L6). Front Row - Molly Darley (Y.11) and Joe Yates (U6).
Chamber Evening - March 2014
Following on from the success of the recent Strings evening and Vocal evening, SGS Music Department continued this new series of Chamber Music concerts with a concert featuring all of our chamber ensembles. Whilst the larger ensembles (Concert Band. Orchestra, Choir and Big Band) have lots of oportunities to perform throughout the year, we observed a shortage in opportunities for our smaller chamber groups and so this evening was designed to address the balance.
It featured groups predominantly led by our peripatetic staff and it yet again reflected the quality of the tuition that our young musicians receive each week. String Orchestra (Mrs Stanley), Recorders (Mrs Beauchamp), Percussion Ensemble (Mr Davies), Saxophone Ensemble (Ms Owen), Brass Ensemble (Mr Turner) and Saxophone Quartet (Miss Lamplough) all performed along with Flute group (a student led ensemble) and an exquisite Violin Duet from Georgie Mabey and Mrs Stanley (Bach's Double Violin Concerto).
West Side Story 2014 - March 2014
SGS Music and Drama Departments joined forces once again for the annual musical. 4 sell out performances were once again delivered with maturity and high energy which delighted the audience. The demanding score for West Side Story presented many vocal challenges for our fledgling cast but there was no evidence of this when the curtain went up on the first night. The cast showed great consistency and demonstrated what outstanding vocal talent there is at SGS. The singers we have who represent the school at county, district (CBSO Youth Chorus) and even national (National Youth Chorus) level all performed with the professionalism we have come to expect but it was the instrumentalists who became singers for the week that particularly impressed. Wonderful vocal performances from Joe Yates (flute), Adam Handford (trumpet), Dominic Sterland (viola), Jamie Baker (Double Bass) and Harry Handford (percussion) were of particular note as well as those of our first study singers in Ellie Sterland, Georgie McKinley, Milly Yates and Rebecca Kohler delighted the sell out crowds.
Once again the cast was fortunate to have professional backing from the highest calibre of musicians conducted by Mr Lamplough (Director of Music). Some of the 16-piece orchestra had travelled from London, Cardiff and a number from Birmingham to play at SGS and in made it a quite remarkable musical experience for all. Some of the band had even played on th erecent UK tour of West Side Story!
Musically it was a wonderful week and the acting and dancing was of an equally high standard. Well done to all concerned on a fabulous show!
SGS Music Festival 2014 - February 2014
The competition for prizes was as fierce as ever as we welcomed Dr Stephen Cobb to adjudicate the 2014 SGS Music Festival. It was a wonderful concert final with 20 first class performances. The eventual winners in the Junior category were Meera Mahesh (3rd), Dominic Sterland (2nd) and the winner of the Nicholls Junior Trophy was Year 8 violinist Charlotte Howdle. The Senior category was also a wonderful vehicle for the musical talent at SGS with Rebecca Kohler (3rd), Georgie Mabey (2nd) and the winner of the Taylor Senior Cup being sixth form flautist Joe Yates.
Congratulations to all of the performers!
Vocal Evening - January 2014
SGS held its inaugural vocal evening featuring 30 of our singers. The evening was prepared by SGS vocal teacher Mrs Lamplough and featured vocal music from opera, musical theatre and traditional song all sung quite beautifully by SGS vocalists. For many it was an opportunity to sing out in public pieces which are being prepared for forthcoming examinations but for our audience it was a lovely evening of vocal music displaying the exceptional talent that our vocal department possesses.
Christmas with Stafford Grammar School - December 2013
Christmas is always a busy time, especially for musicians! This is certainly the case at Stafford Grammar School and over the month of December the Music Department undertook a gruelling schedule of 16 performances in 17 days! This was a mix of formal concerts, playing and singing carols in and around Staffordshire and even&l