The Cabaret Evening showcased talent in the performing arts from Year 8 through to Year 11, not forgetting our lovely poetry reading quartet of Year 5 and 6 students who extolled the benefits of music and drama in verse they had written themselves. For Year 10s and 11s it was an opportunity to air examination material – drama students performed their monologues and music students performed some of their solo and ensemble pieces. Year 8 and 9 students auditioned to provide supporting acts and it was really exciting to see the performing potential already developing amongst the younger years.
We can’t show the monologues as they are coursework submissions but, suffice it to say, there were some stunning and tear-jerking performances. Below you can find musical highlights from the evening as well as some rehearsal clips from the day.
Feeling Good, performed by our Year 11 band who have been playing together since the end of Year 8
Composed and performed by Oscar and James in Year 11
God Help the Outcast, sung by Jessica in Year 11
I see Fire, chosen and sung by Fraser in Year 8
Blackbird, played by Oscar (Yr11) and a budding new band in the form of Year 8 boys singing Locked Away
The Power of Love, chosen and sung by Phoebe and Sapphire (Year 9)
Asturias by Albeniz, performed by James in Year 11
Martha and Rose in Year 8 performing a piano duet
Chopin Waltz performed by Toby in Year 11
Senior Choir, A Thousand Years
Year 9 are trying their hand at improvisation which the Encyclopaedia Britannica defines as ‘the extemporaneous composition or free performance of a musical passage, usually in a manner conforming to certain stylistic norms but unfettered by the prescriptive features of a specific musical text’. Interesting that musical text or notation should be, by implication, restrictive and perhaps curbing creativity.
This is what one group have put together so far – the first piece you will recognise as a version of Seven Nation Army but the second is all theirs and most definitely ‘unfettered by the prescriptive features of a specific musical text’.
Year 9’s skirmish with experimental music continues as they explore music concrete. This took off with the invention and development of recording techniques in the 1950s which opened a whole new world to composers, a world which we 21st century-ites take for granted. Music concrete takes raw sounds and then manipulates and combines them into a musical composition.
The students’ first task was to collect a bank of sound samples using the Sampler in GarageBand. They then had to work out how they wanted to manipulate and combine them to create a piece of music. A lot of imaginative work went into this and you can hear some of the results of their labours below:
This piece combines samples and pre-composed loops – spot the topical content of one of their samples!
This is an imaginative remake of a song by The White Stripes in which the students use samples of their voices to realise the parts:
This, at times quite terrifying, piece uses a mixture of vocal samples and sounds recorded from around the school:
Prep students and staff were transported to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in assembly on Friday when Homerton’s steel pan band came to visit. Absolute Pandemonium was formed in the 1980s and is a student run band which plays regularly for schools as well as May Balls and other engagements.
Traditionally, steel pans were made from the oil drums left behind by the US army after the 2nd World War. They come in all sizes – the shallower the pan the higher the pitch. After heating to a high temperature, the top is hammered to produce indentations which give pitched notes when struck with rubber tipped sticks.
After performing in assembly, including a foot tapping arrangement of Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’, the band ran a workshop for anyone who wanted to get their hands on a steel pan. All sorts of latent talent was discovered as the Homerton students taught ours to play.
You can see some action packed photos from the workshop below:
What makes a good melody? This is a question Year 8 have been trying to answer by looking at a range of different, well known melodies, including the theme tune from The Apprentice (otherwise known as ‘Dance of the Knights’ by Prokofiev). The students teased out the musical features of this melody as well as the theme from Swan Lake and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, by analysing the rhythm, movement by step or by leap, use of repetition and overall structure. After watching an excellent flashmob performance of this in Sabadell plaza, Catalonia, they all learnt to play the Ode to Joy melody.
You can watch the fruits of their labour below (and it’s worth knowing that only two of the students performing in this short clip are having formal piano lessons):
Year 9 were faced with the musical uncertainties of interpreting an aleatory score where key decisions affecting timbre, harmony and pitches are left up to the performer. Here’s the score they were all working on:
They came up with widely differing versions of the piece and definitely put their own stamp on it. Every one had a distinct character and was musically convincing in its own way. You can listen to a sample of their work below:
Year 9’s entree this term into the world of experimental music is well underway. They have been listening to various pieces which challenge their assumptions about what music is, how it is created and where is is performed, including Stockhausen’s Helicopter Quartet (for conventional string quartet, except that each player is sitting in a helicopter which takes off and flies around). Their composing brief was to create a piece of music without using any conventional instruments and with the focus being on rhythm, texture, timbre and structure.
Here are some of their creations:
Our Senior Showcase this term was a double bill of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roald Dahl’s The Witches, interspersed with music carefully chosen to fit the ‘magical’ theme. All students in Years 7-9 were involved whilst Year 10 students provided much of the musical support. Two Year 10 students also devised the choreography for the dance and rehearsed it with the Year 7 dance team. You can listen to a few musical highlights below – more to follow. In the meantime here are:
‘That’s Life’ sung by our very own Frank Sinatra in Year 7
‘I put a spell on you’, sung by a quartet of girls from Years 7 and 8
‘Another one bites the dust’, performed by our Year 10 Band
Year 9 have been taking an in-depth look at rap and discovering how complicated it actually is to pull off one that really works. There are several important factors that need to be taken into consideration, including:
- the backing and how it interacts with the text
- the vocal delivery enunciation
- the flow – understanding the rhythms and rhymes in the text
The students have worked hard on this and you can here come of the fruits of their labours. The first one uses as its text Puck’s final speech in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the students said they were inspired by the example of MC Hammer that we listened to in class. The second uses a poem by Maya Angelou, ‘Life doesn’t frighten me at all’.