Music making is at the heart of Wimbledon High School life with music being heard across the school at all times of the school day.
From informal performances and assemblies to large-scale concerts and joint musical productions with the Drama department, music is celebrated and enjoyed. The Senior Music department is attached to the Rutherford Centre and offers two music classrooms, both fully equipped with Mac books running specialist software Sibelius 7, as well as seven practice rooms used for peripatetic instrumental teaching. Our curriculum is focused on academic rigour and understanding; this is matched with an extensive co-curricular timetable, which allows students to be immersed in musical creativity throughout their school day.
The music department is exceptionally diverse in the range of ensembles and groups on offer. Each term has a large concert where the ensembles and choirs perform, with additional services at local churches at Christmas and Easter. In addition, there are termly scholars’ concerts and instrumental competitions held throughout the academic year. The AbC (Anything but Classical) Concert, Battle of the Bands and weekly Friday Jammin' ensure that all musicians are given a platform for performance.
The Symphony Orchestra numbers some 60 performers of an ABRSM Grade 6 standard or above. They are the flagship instrumental ensemble of the school and play a leading role in concerts and services throughout the year, performing a range of music – including classical repertoire, film music scores and concerto movements. The Senior Orchestra is directed by Richard Bristow and rehearse twice a week, giving performances in venues including St John’s Smith Square and Cadogan Hall.
String Orchestra/Woodwind & Brass Orchestra:
Led by Miss Kennington and Mr Wilson, these non-auditioned ensembles aim to foster excellent musical technique and allow musical ensemble skills to flourish. They rehearse at the same time, allowing for sectional rehearsals and to come together as a small orchestra. These ensembles are ideal for players up to Grade V standard.
Our auditioned Senior Chamber Choir (Years 10-13) toured New York City in February 2015 and have performed newly-commissioned compositions by Treseder. They will be going on tour to Barcelona in February 2018. They recorded Vivaldi’s Gloria to critical acclaim in March 2016 at St. John’s Smith Square, London, as well as recording Faure’s Requiem at Cadogan Hall in 2017. The group leads the liturgy at the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. They rehearse twice a week, performing in 4-part harmony with or without accompaniment, and are directed by Mr Richard Bristow.
Our auditioned Junior Chamber Choir (Years 7-9) have an exciting year planned with performances in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Cadogan Hall, London. They rehearse weekly and often perform in 4-part harmony and are directed by Dr John Parsons.
Close Harmony Singers
This is a small group of confident singers singing in (often very) close harmony, with performances in termly concerts as well as external events like Open Days and Conferences.
They rehearse weekly and are directed by Miss Clare Green.
This is a specialist string ensemble focusing on playing a range of pieces, from Baroque to more contemporary styles, developing specialist string techniques and supporting soloists. Recent performances have included performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 at St. John’s Smith Square and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings at Cadogan Hall. They rehearse weekly and are directed by Miss Clare Kennington.
The Swing Band perform classics for the genre, developing improvisation skills and working within small sectionals. The ensemble is keen to recruit new musicians who love playing Jazz Standards. The group is in high demand to perform at various events, including Speech Day. They rehearse weekly and are led by Mr Michael Wilson.
A new auditioned ensemble for 2017, Sinfonia is for our highly-able musicians who are working beyond a Grade VI standard. They typically spend 3 weeks individually learning the music and then having a few rehearsals before performing challenging repertoire in concerts. They are directed by Mr Richard Bristow.
Musical Theatre Choir:
An open choir for all girls without audition focusing on having fun when learning to sing. The focus is on learning how to project, achieve breath control and to blend as an ensemble, and is led by a professional singer to allow vocal technique to be discussed. They work closely with Miss Katie Butler, our Performing Arts Assistant, and are directed by Miss Claudia Myles.
Weekly theory teaching classes are available for those needing to prepare for their ABRSM Grade V Theory examinations. These are available at an extra cost and are taught in small groups by Miss Claudia Myles and Mr Robert Woolley.
WHS’s weekly music surgery is a great time to pop in to M10 to catch up on any missed work or to ask for help with any aspect of the curriculum course, theory course or to develop aural skills for ABRSM examinations. It is run by Mr Richard Bristow.
GCSE Ensemble Club:
This is a lunchtime club for Year 10 and 11 GCSE musicians to work towards their performance unit, focusing especially on their ensemble pieces with Miss Clare Green.
Barcelona Tour Choir:
This is an after-school choir for those girls in A Cappella who are going to Barcelona in February 2018 to ensure the music is learnt from memory before going abroad and is directed by Mr Richard Bristow.
This is a specialist auditioned ensemble for playing Baroque music focused on historical performance practice led by Mr Gerry McDonald.
This group is open to all girls who are interested in composing music, either using acoustic performance or technology including Sibelius and Garage Band. It is led by Miss Katie Butler, a professional composer.
WHS offers a whole range of chamber ensembles – String Quartets, Clarinet Choirs, Guitar Group, Flute Group, African Djembe Drumming, Pop Choir, Piano Ensemble and ABC Choir to name but a few. These groups are often taken by specialist Peripatetic musicians who have excellent and specific knowledge of the ensemble. You should discuss your involvement with the member of staff running the club; typically they rehearse to perform in a termly concert.
WHS’s weekly recital series for girls to perform in an informal environment in the Senior Hall. All girls are encouraged to perform in front of a small audience. A loyalty scheme, offering pots of Jam, usually operates for those who have been to each Jammin’ session in a term.
We host ABRSM practical examinations each term, usually with 2 days in Autumn, Spring and Summer. Entry for these examinations is made by completing a form within the first two weeks of the term of examination. This also will allow us to allocate a school accompanist if required. Costs for sitting the examination and accompanist fees are chargeable to parents.
WHS produces two musicals each year – the first for Year 11 – 13 pupils (Autumn/Spring) and the second for Year 9 – 10 pupils (Spring/Summer). The Music Department is actively involved in this process, not only in training the performers the vocal parts, but also in forming the band to accompany the production.
Follow @Music_WHS for the latest information on our concerts, activities and productions.