Throughout the week beginning 23 January, the Music Faculty at BMS launched its inaugural Festival of Performance. Led by an expert practitioner together with our Director of Music, Mrs Perry, each of the five lunchtime sessions focused on different musical instruments and featured students at all levels.
Monday was dedicated to piano, followed by vocal performance on Tuesday, then wind and brass. Thursday saw the turn of students playing the drum kit, tuned percussion and guitars, and we finished the week with our string players. Around 50 students were involved in total, having signed up for the opportunity in the autumn term. They performed their chosen pieces before receiving individual feedback and advice from that day’s guest. Every session ended with a stunning performance from our visiting musicians, which inspired the students and undoubtedly deepened their enthusiasm for the subject.
Three of these visiting musicians were OBMs: Greg May, Immy Churchill and Gus Wallett. The trio are currently pursuing exciting musical ventures. Immy is a jazz singer at the Royal Academy of Music, whilst pianist Greg and percussionist Gus are honing their crafts at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama respectively.
Our other visiting professionals were flautist Sarah O’Flynn and harpist Elizabeth Bass. Sarah has been the sub principal flute with Britten Sinfonia since 2006, and Elizabeth Bass has recently been appointed joint principal harp with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Mrs Perry said: “I was delighted by the response to this new initiative. The atmosphere in the Howard Hall was fantastic and it was great to see so much support from staff and students in the audience.
“Many of our musicians are used to playing in groups and ensembles, and I think it was a really positive thing for them to experience and embrace the nerves that come with performing solo. Their hard work, effort and enjoyment were clear to see.
“I am also extremely grateful to our visiting musicians for giving up their time and providing constructive feedback, which I am sure the students will incorporate into their practice going forward.”
Immy commented: “The students were so inspiring to me and it was great to see how varied their choice of repertoire was. It was a joy to hear them sing. Today wasn’t about judging their performances – it was about offering advice and support which will lead them to an even healthier relationship with their practice.”
Greg added: “It was great to come back to BMS where I always really enjoyed playing. Today was a fantastic experience in which both the students and I learned something.”