We believe in promoting independent musicians capable of performing with poise, passion, connection and skill. Renowned for both its breadth of opportunity as well as its ambition to extend the most able musicians, co-curricular Music at King Edward’s has something for all musicians. In light of this, King Edward’s Music and Drama Departments won the 2018 School of the Year for Performing Arts by the Independent Schools Parent Magazine.
With exciting partnerships well-established with Bath Abbey’s highly-regarded vocal heritage, compositional skill developed by New Music South West, as well as the dynamic instrumental expertise of the Bath Philharmonia Orchestra, our pupils are extended not only by music making with peers of similar ability in exciting performances, but also by learning from and being inspired by professional artists at the top of their profession in workshops, joint rehearsals and concerts.
With opportunities over the past few years for our KES pupils to attend many Bath Philharmonia concerts free of charge, meet and learn from young world-class soloists such as Nicola Benedetti, Laura van de Heijden, Jess Gillam and Sheku Kanneh-Mason in workshops at KES and sit in on their dress rehearsals with the orchestra, our musicians have outstanding opportunities to witness and be motivated by musicians with world-leading technical and communicative skills.
KES is the city’s primary provider of choristers for the Bath Abbey boys’ choir and around 14-16 singers are part of this, the girls’ choir, and as members of the supporting adult singers. The opportunities presented by these important musical roles within our partnership with the Abbey is fully supported by the school and auditions are held by the Assistant Director of Music in the Junior School each year. Very much a part of the city of Bath, KES musicians undertake regular concert opportunities in impressive venues such as the Ball Room in the Assembly Rooms, the Banqueting Room in the Guildhall, the Forum concert hall in Bath, the glorious Bath Abbey around three or four times a year and even the intimate surroundings of the Holburne Museum, to name but a few.
The auditioned KES Sixteen has undertaken UK Choir Tours performing choral evensong in Gloucester and Southwark Cathedrals as well as on home territory in Bath Abbey. We are aiming to launch our first International Music Tour within the next couple of years.
Performing to and for the Bath Community is important to us. Several of our choirs sing regularly at, for example, care homes. There are also performances each year for the Rotary Fund outside Bath Abbey to raise money by KES Brass and KES Wind, KES Soul raise money each year for the school’s chosen charities in a special Unite concert in the Spring, and we have just started a partnership with the Royal United Hospital in Bath to regularly take our musicians and chamber ensembles on to wards and into the gardens to entertain patients.
We believe in providing ensembles to enable musicians of every level develop. All ensembles are inclusive in outlook and only three are joined through auditions. Through the school, there are:
String Quartets (Senior)
1 KES Soul - Funk Band (Senior)
2 Flute Ensembles (Intermediate and Senior)
2 Clarinet Ensembles (Intermediate and Senior)
2 String Chamber Orchestras (Junior and Senior ‘Baroque Group’)
3 Orchestras over a range of abilities (Junior, INTER-KES (Senior School) and the Senior Orchestra)
1 Saxophone Ensemble (Senior)
1 Cello Ensemble
2 Brass Bands (Junior and Senior)
1 Percussion Ensemble (Senior)
2 Wind Bands (Junior and Senior)
1 Parent Singing Group
2 Steel Pan Bands (Junior and Senior)
1 Parent, Staff and Friends of KES Choir
5 Choirs (the Junior School’s Lower School and auditioned Tudor Rose Choir and the Senior School’s KES Senior Singers, MEN, a male vocal group and the auditioned KES Sixteen)
1 KES Contemporary chamber ensemble that performs new works by our resident composer, Mr Boden, and A Level pupils.
Instrumental & Vocal Tuition
Learning an instrument and solo singing is not only fun and enjoyable, it provides opportunities to take part in collaborative music making within ensembles, gives children a sense of purpose and self-worth, and develops the ability to work in an independent, organised and disciplined way, all of which are things that universities and future employers look at very favourably. KES is proud to have an outstanding team of 17 specialist music staff who deliver instrumental and vocal tuition to between 400 and 500 hundred KES Pupils every week. They are all accomplished musicians and performers in their respective fields and many also run musical KES ensembles too. All pupils at King Edward’s School are encouraged to consider learning an instrument and the wide range of instrumental tuition available, from classical orchestral instruments (flutes to bassoons, trumpets to tubas, orchestral percussion, violins to double basses) to popular music instruments such as guitars (acoustic, electric & bass) keyboard and drums, ensures that there really is something for everyone to enjoy. We offer a package of six, 1/2 hour, taster lessons that are less expensive than normal individual tuition so that KES pupils can find the sound that reflects and suits them best.
Music Department Team
Within our department of 23 Music Staff our team of four, highly-motivated, enthusiastic and professional academic music teachers deliver a curriculum that progresses through to A Level. Pupils benefit hugely from their individual music specialisms which range from the artistry of composition, the sensitivity of accompaniment, the deep understanding of musicology to the passion of solo performance. We are very proud to have not only have a dedicated KES Accompanist and Performance Coach (Rupert Hutchings) to support all our pupils in their performances and exams, but we also have our very own resident composer, Mark Boden, who not only also lectures in composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, but also writes three major new works a year for KES in a thrilling variety of styles. All our music staff reflect the KES pupils’ all-rounder ethos, with active roles within the school outside the department, be it in sports such as tennis, netball and football, or the CCF, say. The Music Department works very closely with other departments such as drama and sport to ensure excellent coordination with other co-curricular activities
With around 50 performance opportunities a year, we have a very exciting and busy calendar of musical events throughout the year, both in school and in the wider community. So that our young musicians can experience a wider variety of performance events without overloading the already busy and balanced school calendar, we run a triennial Music performance programme.
SOLO PERFORMING OPPORTUNITIES
These range from more informal events such as our termly informal 'Lunchtime Recital’ series, to the high-profile external concerts such as the Holburne Museum Soloists’ Concert in early Spring.
The lunchtime recitals are an excellent way for pupils to take early steps in live performing, display their skill to their friends and peers, as well as a vehicle to practice exam pieces in a highly supportive setting in the week leading up to ABRSM exams. For the Sixth Form, there are termly open mic events held in the Holbeche Sixth Form Centre, which create a welcoming platform for Year 12 & 13 to bring their musical talents of any style to everyone's attention.
Semi-formal concerts in front of parents, friends and staff range from our LOWER SCHOOL CONCERT for Years 7 & 8 in late June, to the AUTUMN and SPRING COLOURS CONCERTS for pupils from any year, on any instrument and of any level of ability.
HOLBURNE SOLOISTS’ CONCERT
The Holburne Soloists’ Concert (part of our Spring Music Festival) is a wonderful and intimate event in the most glorious of settings for KES's top musicians and is our most formal concert for soloists and small chamber ensembles. The usual standard for pupils involved in this concert is around Grade 7+.
These are wonderful opportunities to develop solo performance skills. Led by an inspiring visiting soloist, around 6-7 pupils perform a piece of their choice and then have around 20-25 minutes feedback. We hold 5 masterclasses a year in association with our professional partnership orchestra - Bath Philharmonia - for Upper String, Lower Strings, Woodwind, Brass and Percussion. We also hold masterclasses for pianists and singers on alternate years.
ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES
As well as performing regularly in Whole School Assemblies and internal concerts, our KES Ensembles enjoy an exciting programme of playing outside the environs of the School in such events as the Bath Festival, at the Royal United Hospital, successfully competing in the Mid-Somerset Festival Competition and the Music for Youth Festival, in care homes in the city and in performances in collaboration with other choirs and ensembles. In addition, here is a brief flavour of some of the other major performance events that we hold within our triennial Music Programme.
The String Chamber Orchestra (Baroque Group) and the Senior Orchestra usually set the scene for the School’s annual Prizegiving Ceremony.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS
This is a loud and thrilling event in the Wroughton Theatre designed to showcase KES musicians. With a live, voting audience and accompanied by full lighting and sound equipment, the competition and accomplishment of the bands is exhilarating to experience.
THE KES CAROL SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS
The service is held in the school’s spiritual home of Bath Abbey and sees not only all of the Senior School choirs (and some ensembles like Baroque Group and KES Contemporary) performing beautiful Christmas music from across the ages, but performing new works by our resident composer, Mark Boden. With wonderful music in a moving act of worship enveloped by dimmed lighting and candles, the Christmas season doesn’t start until this event!
KES SPRING MUSIC FESTIVAL
Our main concert season is in the Spring Term, during which we hold our Music Festival in late March. Performances include:
THE BATH ORCHESTRAL GALA CONCERT
This is in conjunction with our Side-By-Side Project partners, Bath Philharmonia Orchestra. In recent years, this remarkable event has taken place in either The Guildhall or at the Assembly Rooms. The concert is preceded by a weekend of workshops and rehearsals, during which our pupils spend time learning from Bath Philharmonia section leaders, honing their skills alongside these professional musicians, many of whom teach in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and UK music conservatoires. For three of our very top KES Musicians, there is the thrilling experience of performing a movement from a concerto, or an aria accompanied by Bath Philharmonia
KES SOUL PERFORM AT THE KES UNITE CHARITY EVENT
Our R&B band, KES Soul, provide energetic entertainment for a gathering of the KES Community to raise money for the charities being supported by KES each year.
THE INSTRUMENTAL EXTRAVAGANZA CONCERT.
All the major KES Ensembles perform in our own Wroughton Theatre at School. The music is varied and powerful, ranging from our four ensembles that represent the orchestral families (Brass/Strings/Wind/Percussion) to opportunities for our young composers to have their A-Level compositions performed to a live audience.
THE CHORAL EXTRAVAGANZA CONCERT.
All five Senior School choirs (including the parent/staff choir!) take part in this vibrant concert showcasing a huge array of vocal styles from tradition choral music settings, to jazz arrangements and even beat-boxing.! The pieces performed see choirs singing items by themselves, combining into massed choirs and the concert is also a platform for some of our top vocal soloists.
This is a rousing service celebrating the founding of King Edward’s in Bath Abbey with Music is at its heart. Choral anthems, hymns, processional and recessional music as well as a new work written each year by our composer in residence, Mark Boden, are performed by our individual and massed choirs, accompanied by ensembles such as KES Contemporary, KES Baroque Group and KES Brass. A wonderful way to round of the Musical calendar each year.