Music is coming to Millfield School
- Credit: Thommy Mardo
A Somerset school is proud to showcase world-class musicians to the local community in its stunning concert venue
Founded in 1935, Millfield is today one of the leading UK independent schools. It is famous for its sporting accomplishments but puts a great emphasis on the performing arts, art and cultural pursuits too.
In fact its first class music facilities attract world-class professionals to play here. The school opens its doors to the community for these events so the performances not only inspire the pupils but also entertain a wider audience.
The International Concert Series in the school’s Johnson Hall in Street has been running since 2012 and is now officially supported by Somerset Life. The Series has welcomed many fine musicians to date, such as The Tallis Scholars, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Pascal Rogé, Peter Donohoe, 4Mality and Joanna McGregor.
Millfield Director of Music Matthew Cook says it’s an experience the performers enjoy. “Since joining in January, I have been fortunate to attend two of last year’s concerts. Both sets of artists were hugely impressed by our facilities, audience enthusiasm and overall concert experience. Each concert also has a musical intimacy to it that appeals greatly to performers and audiences alike.
“The International Concert Series is wonderfully received, especially by those who attend all three concerts as part of the subscription. The cost to attend each event is also well below what you would pay if you were to watch any of the acts perform at alternative venues.
“For me, it is a treat to see world-renowned artists performing in Somerset. The audiences also enjoy getting to meet some of the artists in the drink receptions hosted in the Johnson Hall Foyer.
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The concerts enrich the pupils’ experience with an incredible diversity of musical styles and encourage them to further their studies. “In addition to watching talented musicians perform in their own school, which in itself is quite unique, our pupils have the chance to work with, and perform alongside, some of the professionals,” says Matthew.
“This year, both Jennifer Pike and Joseph Moog will be hosting masterclasses for our violinists and pianists respectively. A number of our scholars will prepare a piece that they will work on with the artists, an inspirational and wonderfully exciting prospect for any young musician.”
The performances take place in the Johnson Hall, which is designed to offer 350 seats, a vast performance stage, excellent acoustics and a Steinway D Concert Grand.
“It is a real asset for the South West,” says Matthew. “The Johnson Hall hosts the majority of our concerts, all of which are open to the local community. We also host events for local prep schools in which professional groups visit and give fantastic workshops to their pupils. Last February, Onyx Brass delivered a workshop for more than 40 young brass players and this year we welcome Apollo5, a world-renowned close harmony vocal quintet who will be working with choristers from across Somerset.
“In the near future, we are hoping to open the concert hall to the community for streamed concerts from across the globe; we are also aiming to start a Saturday Morning String School, welcoming local children for tuition from outstanding staff. Watch this space!”
Millfield’s Music School is one of the largest in the UK with facilities which are on par with many university departments, says Matthew. “This allows us to offer an incredible amount of opportunities for our musicians. Our ensemble provision includes: school choir, symphony orchestra, chamber choir, string orchestra, jazz band, percussion ensemble, brass ensemble, wind ensemble and vibrant rock and pop groups. In addition to this there are numerous chamber music ensembles rehearsing every week.
“With a growing concert calendar featuring almost 50 concerts, performances range from solo recitals to large-scale ensemble concerts and chamber music concerts to contemporary evenings and musicals. The music department benefits from a high profile external performance calendar, participation in renowned music festivals and competitions, tours across the globe, a programme of masterclasses and a biennial Concerto Festival, in which pupils perform a concerto movement.”
Concerts coming up include:
23 February: Jennifer Pike - A violinist renowned for her “dazzling interpretative flair and exemplary technique” (Classic FM).
9 May: Joseph Moog - A world-renowned concert pianist, Joseph was Gramophone Young Artist of the Year 2015 and also GRAMMY nominated.
Tickets are £15 each and can be booked online or via 01458 444404.