‘The Language of music is much richer and more eloquent than that of words. In its sublime manifestations, music touches upon spiritual spheres that words cannot penetrate. Music is a spiritual art. It shall bring light and good to people.’ – Edison Denisov
At Monmouth School for Girls music plays an equally rich and important role in the life of the school and girls are encouraged to take up instruments, join orchestras and ensembles, sing and perform. Music is the lifeblood and the heartbeat of the school. We possess a talented team of instrumental and singing teachers, providing tuition for a large proportion of the girls. Lessons are usually individual (although shared lessons can be requested in certain circumstances) and last for 30 minutes. In Years 6-9 lessons are arranged during the normal school timetable, but are rotated so that the same subject lesson is not missed on consecutive weeks. In Year 10 and above, lessons are usually arranged in lunchtimes, free periods and after school to avoid missing subject lessons.
There are many opportunities for performance and every girl has the chance to gain experience in performing; there are high profile formal concerts as well as more relaxed ones aimed at less experienced musicians.
Our aim in the Music Department is to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of different kinds of music and to fire up enthusiasm to look a little further. We hope that, through studying music, girls will develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity and emotional and cultural development. We explore the diverse and dynamic heritage of music and the essential role it has played, and continues to play, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural lives of people from around the world, both in the past and right now.
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. Aldous Huxley
Combining and sharing the musical skills of the more advanced pupils from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools is a fundamental part of the musical experience we offer here at both schools.
The HMSSO, Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Symphony Orchestra, exists to bring the best players together in order to give them the opportunity to tackle some of the more challenging and rewarding music in the orchestral repertoire. The orchestra meets for three Sunday workshops, once in the Michaelmas term, and twice in the Lent term. The third and final workshop always takes place during the week of the Concert when HMSSO perform the chosen repertoire in public for the first time.
The control and directorship of the orchestra alternates between the two Schools. In 2014 HMSSO performed John Williams’ Superman March, Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave, Walton’s Henry V Suite and Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre Cardiff on the 2nd of March. On this occasion we were delighted that Professor Jane Glover CBE, a former pupil of Monmouth School for Girls, who is an internationally renowned conductor, former Musical Director of the London Mozart Players and currently Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, kindly consented to share her wealth of experience with the pupils by conducting Fingal’s Cave. In 2015 under the direction of David Lawson, Director of Music at Monmouth School for Boys, HMSSO performed Verdi’s La Forza del Destino Overture, Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns, The Comedians by Kabalevsky and The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson. In 2016 under the direction of Amy Clouter, HMSSO performed Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the Intermezzo from the Háry János Suite by Kodaly, and Rodeo by Aaron Copland. In 2017, the orchestra performed in St David’s Hall as part of the celebrations for Monmouth School for Girls’ 125th Anniversary.
The Symphonic Winds and the Senior Strings are two ensembles which meet every week, and pupils of both Schools of Grade 5 standard and above are invited to attend. There are regular workshops and concerts which take place throughout the year. There have been tours to Barcelona and Prague, and many awards have been won in the National Concert Band Festival which are held every year. In 2007-08 the prolific band composer Phillip Sparke was commissioned by Monmouth School for Boys to compose a piece of music for the Symphonic Winds. The result being A Monmouth Overture, which was performed at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Senior Strings also performed on this occasion and gave an exquisite performance of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.
There is a rich variety of musical co-curricular groups, which rehearse weekly at lunchtimes or after school. These ensembles include:
- Junior Singers
- Concert Choir
- Chamber Choir
- Jazz Crusaders
- Guitar Group
- St Catherine’s Strings
- Wind Band
- Theory Club
Pupils are also encouraged to form their own chamber ensembles and time is dedicated towards coaching and providing appropriate performing opportunity.