Choirs, Orchestras and Ensembles
There is a strong tradition of choral excellence at Ardingly with a number of different choral opportunities available for students. The Chapel choir sing as part of the weekly service with a variety of music that spans the liturgical and compositional canon. Central highlights of the year include the carol services, Lent and Passiontide and finally, the Commemoration Day Service in June. In addition, the Chapel choir sing at prestigious cathedrals twice a year with recent visits to Winchester, Chichester and Guildford. In November, the choir will sing at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The Schola Cantorum is the Senior School Chamber choir who rehearse separately to the Chapel choir. Music focuses on classical repertoire principally, both accompanied and acappella, although lighter styles are prepared, particularly in advance of the annual Cabaret evening in March. A flagship ensemble in the College, they have visited Oxbridge colleges to sing Evensong and attend professional masterclasses, and have recently recorded a CD of Christmas music due for release in November.
The newest addition to the musical provision of the College is the Girls’ choir. This meets once a week during a lunchtime and focuses on singing popular and lighter numbers in both accompanied and acapella arrangements.
Throughout the year, singers from the College are able to join forces with the Ardingly Choral Society performing larger vocal works. In April 2018, they performed Brahms’ German Requiem, whilst in June there is a joint Evensong in Chapel.
Orchestra and Larger Ensembles
The Symphony Orchestra meet once a week and primarily work towards the end of term showcase concerts. Typically, the repertoire will focus on the seminal works of the classical repertoire with recent concerts including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Symphonic movements by Mozart and Schubert, Dvorak Slavonic Dances alongside concerto movements performed by experienced musicians in the Upper Sixth. In addition, the film soundtrack score has been incorporated into the orchestra’s repertoire with such highlights as Jurassic Park, the Harry Potter Symphonic Suite and Star Wars featuring in summer concerts.
Alongside the Symphony Orchestra, the College runs a String Ensemble and Concert Band which gives the opportunity to explore music of a specific nature for students. The String Ensemble meets once a week with concert opportunities including the Remembrance Concert and end of term showcase events. They play a variety of string music from Jenkins to Vivaldi and Bach to the later Romantic canon of Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Holst.
The Concert Band is an ensemble consisting of some 30 students who play Brass and Woodwind instruments. With students from all years in the school encouraged to join, students enjoy performing traditional band repertoire, film soundtracks and arrangements of popular music and musicals.
Alongside the larger ensembles, there is provision at Ardingly for specialist chamber music training as smaller ensembles are created giving students a unique musical training. The skills developed in Chamber ensembles are vital, giving students independence and valuable co-operative and ensemble skills. We run a series of string groups, Wind trios and the Saxophone Ensemble, all of which have opportunity to perform throughout the course of the year, both inside and outside of the College.
Roc Soc is the central ensemble that focuses on the contemporary aspect of music and, with the installation of the New Percussion Centre, have opportunity to rehearse in state-of-the-art facilities equipped with modern equipment and recording devices. The annual Anything But Classical Concert gives students a platform to perform whilst the House Ensemble competition encourages bands to be created within a house environment. Finally, creative students are encouraged to write their own music and, most recently, Ashley Johnston won the Woodard Schools Young Musician of the Year in 2017 for her song, Nightcrawler.