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A Musical Overture to the New Academic Year

Music for the new academic year began with a bang before term had even started with our Bands/Orchestra pre-season session. Starting with high-level pieces by Charles Mingus and Tchaikovsky respectively, 67 of our leading musicians across both senior ensembles heralded the start of another thriving musical year ahead.

The legacy of the Foundation Chapel Choir continues as they got stuck into anthems by Tallis and Vaughan Williams as chapel services resumed from week 1, covering notable repertoire by Duruflé (the Requiem) and Stanford which culminated in an exquisite inaugural performance by more than 40 pupils and staff in week 3’s Foundation Day service to kick start the year. Their voices drifting up in our sublime Chapel acoustic before several of the lead choristers made a dash to the Sports Hall for the sound check ahead of the ceremony. This was Mill Hill’s Collective, a flagship 5-piece Jazz group who covered Ezra’s Victory Dance before leading the Foundation’s parents, governors and pupils in an enthusiastic interactive finale. Two of our music scholars, Lana M (Murray) and Leyla F (Winfield) (aspiring to join music conservatoires when they leave next year) gave a stunning performance of Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys describing the experience as “pure exhilaration”. Sandwiched between events was the first of our termly Scholars’ Concerts in the Large, featuring a bumper crop of stellar performances of notable classical, jazz and musical theatre repertoire from no fewer than 24 of our scholars – including 7 in the new Fourth Form – and a corresponding buzz afterwards. Week 4 saw our Big Band leaders reconvene to put together an impromptu set for the launch evening of the Saracens partnership with Mill Hill Schools. The experience of presenting music they themselves had written and arrange to professional board members and parents as the sun set over Top Field was described as “transcendent” by current Junior Guildhall member of the band, Edward B (Weymouth).

“Quintessentially galvanizing” is our rock and pop leader (Neo Mohammadian)’s assessment of music’s power to canvass the current creativity and aspiration to do great things in the Music School. “This is a medium to inspire others”, said Big Band leader Alex Kamykanov when summing up why he does so much and gives so much to leading music at Mill Hill. We hope to do just that and lift the roof of the Large with upcoming performances of ballet scores by Tchaikovsky (Camerata), standards by Basie and Mingus’ Moanin’ (Jazz Bands) and a Christmas set in the style of Bublé for the term’s two-part concert – as well as giving pause with anthems by Howells for the Act of Remembrance on 10 November with the fanfare and march by the Music school’s newly formed Brass Ensemble.

Gareth Hanson
Director of Musical Performance