An education in Music at St George’s Weybridge prepares our students for a cultural understanding of, and appreciation for the place of Music within our modern world.
All students in the lower years of the College enjoy a creative and practically based curriculum whilst a high level of practical and academic demand is placed upon our specialist and upper years musicians. Students in the fourth year upwards can elect to take public exams in Music (Edexcel at GCSE, OCR at AS / A2 Level).
With three full time staff (Richard Quesnel - Director of Music, Alice Martin – Head of Academic Music & Kathryn Wardil), a part time music administrator and team of 26 visiting instrumental staff, the department is able to support, encourage and inspire our students at all levels.
Performance opportunities for students are numerous and varied, with a large number of ensembles rehearsing on a weekly basis many of which are coached by specialist tutors. Students are encouraged to participate in an ensemble as soon as they are able to, and many run their own groups and rehearsals. The department strongly believes in fostering the diversity of musical repertoires and is keen to promote performances of world music (using the College’s samba batucada, steel drum orchestra or gamelan), rock, pop and jazz alongside the canon of Western classical music.
To support this, the College has an extensive concert schedule over the course of the year, from the Lunchtime Live Concert Series, Inter-House Music Competitions, workshops and masterclasses with musicians such as Bob Chilcott to regular major choral and orchestral concerts. Recent repertoire has included Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St John Passion, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Poulenc’s Gloria and Michael Haydn’s Requiem with professional musicians.
Performing new music is also a feature of the department’s current development. First performances of student works will be regularly programmed and the Director of Music often composes work for performance by College ensembles and the whole school in chapel services. To mark its 150th anniversary in 2018-2019, the College has commissioned a libretto from internationally acclaimed librettist Ben Kaye, which will be set to music by Richard Quesnel, and composed specifically to showcase all levels of musical ability amongst students.
The music department strongly supports the College Chaplaincy in providing choral and instrumental music for assemblies, masses and special services such as the annual sung Memorial Requiem, Advent Carol Service and Lenten meditations. The choirs regularly sing services in Catholic and Anglican cathedrals and churches around the country.
We are also very keen to collaborate with other departments within the College. Various initiatives are in place or are being developed: providing music for the A Level art exhibition; illustrating history, politics and RE lessons about subjects such as the Tudor period, the Reformation and the English Civil War; collaborating with the drama department for incidental music to plays (Animal Farm, The Tempest in 2018) and collaborating on musicals (Oliver, The Sound of Music).
Around a quarter of St George's College students undertake private instrumental study and several also study at the Junior Departments of London Conservatoires. The standard of music-making in College means that some pupils have participated in National Youth Jazz Orchestra, National Schools Symphony Orchestra, London School's Symphony Orchestra and Surrey County Youth Orchestra, the National Youth and National Children’s Orchestras.
In the past years students have gained scholarships and places to the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, and Trinity Laban. Several have been awarded Organ and Choral Scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge University as well as to UK cathedrals. The majority of Sixth Form music students go onto to further study music, with most studying in Russell Group universities.
Touring is a key feature of our musicians’ development programme and recent destinations include trips to France and Italy, as well as visits to Belgium and California to maintain and strengthen links with other Josephite schools. The choir’s first CD in 2011 raised over £8,000 for our Josephite schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The College’s Chamber Choir achieved double national success, winning the BBC Songs of Praise Senior School Choir of the Year competition and the Barnardo’s National Choir Competition 2012.
The College is proud to have hosted the MMA music conference for teachers in May 2014, during which guest speakers such as Suzi Digby and Edward Higginbottom held sessions for music teachers from all around the country.