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Music excellence with Julia Doyle and the Britten Sinfonia

Karen Smith

Canford’s Upper Sixth singers were fortunate to have the exciting opportunity to work with international soprano, Julia Doyle in a masterclass this term. It has become an annual visit to the school, Julia gave our singers some wonderful advice on how to perform for their A level recitals with expression and, as singers, how they can communicate the mood and emotion of the music to best effect. The pupils involved were very grateful for the feedback Julia gave them. Director of Music, Christopher Sparkhall said “Julia was wonderfully supportive and encouraging with the pupils. They came out of her masterclass not only with some top notch advice, but feeling affirmed that they were sounding really impressive”. We are fortunate that Julia gives us some of her time each year, and Canford is the only education work she undertakes. Julia’s masterclass is generously funded by donation from Charles Rawlinson (OC).


The annual residence with musicians from Britten Sinfonia took place for the sixth year, just before half term. Five professional musicians from the ensemble spent two days working with various Canfordians in a mixture of chamber music and composition workshops. The Upper Sixth A level musicians had the fantastic opportunity for their compositions to be workshopped and then recorded by the visiting professionals, and without exception, they were delighted with the results. Hearing their music spring to life from the page in the hands of such consummate musicians is a truly inspiring experience – and one which certainly helps persuade an A level examiner of the quality of the music! Musicians from all five year groups also worked alongside the Britten Sinfonia players to prepare chamber music for a concert performance on the second evening. Each ensemble had at least one professional working and playing alongside the Canfordians, and it was exciting to hear how the music improved in the workshops and rehearsals. The concert itself was a wonderfully high-class evening. With music ranging from Mendelssohn (Octet) to Mozart (Kegelstadt Trio), and from Telemann (Concerto a3) to Vaughan Williams (‘On Wenlock Edge’), the music was thoroughly enjoyable and extremely well performed. Particular highlights of the evening were the performance of Rachel Ko’s ambitious serial composition by three of the Britten Sinfonia, and their concluding performance of Elgar’s Piano Quintet (first movement). The opportunity to work with such high class musicians, and to have such encouragement of our music making from them is a wonderful part of the school’s musical year.


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