News Archive

Faure Requiem Performance – Cantilena & Bath Philharmonia

Cantilena will be performing Faure’s Requiem on Saturday, 16 September at 7.30pm with Bath Philharmonia (conducted by Jason Thornton). The concert is in St Swithin’s Church, Bath and tickets are available from Bath Box Office (01225 463362 or

Primary School Workshops with Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

Earlier this year primary schools across Bristol and South Gloucestershire took part in some really exciting workshops provided by Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival. They are currently busy raising funds so that they may open this offer to schools in B&NES next year.

They will be offering a range of educational workshops suitable for KS1 and KS2.

Take a moment to look at their school workshop video at

More details to follow in September…watch this space!

Musical Minis: Year 1 Music Project

The Music Service has been running an exciting new music project in 15 Infant and primary schools over the last few weeks.


The project offers schools an opportunity to work towards a celebratory concert featuring two new songs written by the Music Service. The specially written songs and resources focus on developing an understanding of all types of travel, from walking to hot air balloons and submarines, whilst carefully developing musical skills, primarily in pulse and pitch and instrumental skills in pitched and unpitched percussion.


As well as offering year one pupils the opportunity to develop the foundations of musical development and take part in performances, the project also aims to provide CPD for class teachers, providing them with all the lesson plans and resources needed to repeat the sessions with future year one classes as well as a free training session. Many settings are also keen to continue this music support into year 2 in the next academic year, enabling schools to enrich the musical development of their students from an early age, providing an excellent foundation for furthering their skills in key stage 2 and perhaps taking up an instrument.


A year one teacher whose class are taking part in the project stated this week ‘I wish I had had Musical Minis earlier in my career. I would have felt much less nervous of teaching music. I understand it now!’. A visiting teacher to Batheaston’s Musical Minis session was wowed by what the 5 and 6 year olds had achieved in only 8 sessions.


Although this project is a new initiative, the Music Service has increased delivery at key stage one over the past six years. There is now clear evidence to show that young instrumental players develop at a much faster pace as a result of this intervention. Pupils who have benefited from learning foundation skills in music at KS1 before starting to learn an instrument tend to progress more quickly with a greater depth of understanding than those who have not received quality music delivered from a young age.


The Music Service is passionate about developing musical skills at all levels and this project is the start of an expansion in delivery at key stage one. We’re very much looking forward to viewing the concerts in a few weeks time!

Byranston Residential 2017

Every year Bryanston is awaited with tremendous anticipation from both the pupils and tutors, and this year was certainly no disappointment. Nearly 100 students arrived to wonderful weather on the Thursday afternoon and barely had time to unpack before the music making began.

The four day course kicked off with a creative workshop lead by members of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Stands and sheet music were left to the side as the pupils were encouraged to create music instinctively and freely through improvisation. This was an invigorating start to four days of intense rehearsals of the five ensembles: Orchestra, Wind Band, String Ensemble, Concert Choir and Chamber Choir.

The evenings were a more relaxed affair, with students dispersing into smaller groups to explore a range of styles and ensembles, including a Gospel Choir, smaller String and Wind groups and even a percussion workshop where students composed pieces for short films.

In their free time pupils were free to enjoy Bryanston’s impressive sports facilities and explore the school’s beautiful grounds.

Four days of hard work and good fun were concluded with a lunch with family and friends before a relaxed concert showcasing the ensembles’ efforts. Highlights included a medley of James Bond themes and songs by Burt Bacharach from the Orchestra, a stunning Pizzicato movement from the String Ensemble, an energetic Venezuelan piece from the Wind Band, madrigals to gospel from the Chamber Choir and an arrangement of Danny Boy that left few dry eyes in the audience from the Concert Choir. Not to mention a dramatic evacuation due to an unexpected fire drill!

The brilliant atmosphere and impressive performances after just a few days of rehearsals are no doubt thanks to the tireless efforts of the Staff, and overall the course was a wonderful way to kick off two weeks of holiday for the pupils. Bring on next year!

B&NES Ensembles play in Music For Youth Regional Festival Series 2017

On Saturday the 4th of March, four of our ensembles joined students from around the South West to play in this year’s Music For Youth Regional Festival in Cheltenham. The programme had a fantastic variety of performers, including a primary school choir singing Taylor Swift, a self-conducted brass ensemble and a jazz band that burst in from the side doors and danced in the audience.

Symphonic Wind Band (SWB) and Brass Tacks have been performing in this Festival for the last five years and both ensembles gave confident and exciting performances. Schools Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) and Eclectic Electric made their exciting musical debut, the latter with an original composition that explored numerous genres and boasted challenging time signatures.

Every year the Festival has two Music Mentors, professional musicians with experience in various areas of the music industry. These Mentors watch all the performances and then provide feedback at the end. This year all of our ensembles received incredibly positive comments and invaluable suggestions for development. Some quotes include:

For Symphonic Wind Band:

  • “This is a highly accomplished band”
  • “You play with purpose, energy, drive, commitment and style”
  • “The large band sound is exquisite…you captivated the spirit of each section”

For School’s Philharmonic Orchestra:

  • “Rich string playing, solid percussion, clear wind and crisp brass that all come together to make a vibrant orchestral sound”
  • “Strings have good bow control and real grit in their sound”
  • “A stunning performance from an excellent orchestra”

For Eclectic Electric

  • “Fantastic changes between the sections…superb drums and bass playing”
  • “You took us on a musical styles journey”
  • “Musically exciting and innovative”

For Brass Tacks

  • “Excellent intonation throughout, mixed with a real understanding of the repertoire and style”
  • “You have an exquisite big sound and a wonderfully delicate pianissimo sound”
  • “The solos in ‘Shepherd’s Song’ were wonderful, with fabulous vibrato and phrasing”

We are now waiting to hear back from Music For Youth to see if any of our ensembles have made it through to the National Festival in Birmingham later this year. Watch this space!



Hundreds of B&NES students perform at the Royal Albert Hall

On Monday 14th November, over 500 pupils from B&NES, Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire Music Hubs performed in the Royal Albert Hall as part of one of the Schools’ Proms events, funded by Music for Youth.

In preparation for this stunning event, students rehearsed in a choir and wind band with internationally acclaimed local composer Philip Harper. The Music Hubs commissioned Philip to compose a new piece for this massed ensemble, to commemorate 400 years since the death of Shakespeare. The starting point for this work was a composition competition for senior school students in the participating Hubs. The lucky winners musical ideas were used by Philip to inspire his large scale work A Shakespearian Tryptich.

For many of the students (and supporting parents) this was their first experience of the Royal Albert Hall. And what an experience it was! The choral work formed part of an extremely varied programme for the evening with the audience and participants enjoying performances from across the country including orchestras, soul bands, percussion ensembles, folk groups, jazz ensembles and a thrash band! All the performances were of a very high standard with the students from our massed ensemble performing brilliantly to a large and extremely appreciative audience.

The concert culminated with a massed choir with all participants from the evening singing and playing together amongst a backdrop of fireworks and thousands of balloons! I’m sure that for all those taking part in and supporting the event, this was an evening that will never be forgotten!

Brass Tacks shine at the National Festival in Birmingham


On Friday 8th July Brass Tacks, plus a few parent supporters and three staff, boarded the famous pheasant killing coach at 7.30 a.m. to travel to Birmingham to take part in the finals of the Music for Youth festival at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.


This time, the journey was uneventful and no wildlife were harmed during the day.


The band first performed in Centenary Square to a very appreciative audience. Susan Avison compered the performance introducing the pieces and involving the audience.


This was followed by the main event of the day, a performance in Symphony Hall. The band played 3 contrasting pieces to rapturous applause, finishing with this year’s showpiece, Malaguena.


The comments from the judges were very positive, but unfortunately the band was not lucky enough to be nominated for an award. This did not dampen the spirits at all, and the journey home passed without incident.

Mendip Music Centre Concert

The end of year Mendip concert took place on Thursday 30th June.


It was the fifth concert tat Mendip have been involved in this year, having performed at Writhlington School in February and the Pavilion in May as well as the usual three end of term concerts.


All 5 groups played a variety of music from shows and pop songs to classical arrangements and the concert culminated in a massed performance of the Ride of the Valkyries.


As usual it was sad to see people perform at their last concert, but this time we were particularly sad to say goodbye to Debbie Guy, who has been at the centre for over 20 years. We wish Debbie well with whatever she decides to do next, and will miss her every Thursday next year.