Queen's College is believed to be the only school in the country to have its own Orchestra-in-Residence after agreeing a collaboration with the South Sinfonia. Read full details below.
Queen's has excellent instrumental teaching support with a highly qualified team of 20 visiting teachers who cover every aspect of orchestral and band, playing from double bass to piccolo; there is also a skilled line-up of keyboard teachers specialising in jazz, modern and classical music. Many students work through the grade system and each term we have act as an exam centre for music exams, usually with at least two days of examining required. It is therefore not surprising that so many of our top musicians have reached diploma level while still at school.
We have numerous ensembles rehearsing weekly, including two orchestras, the exuberant Swing Band, Wind Band, College Choir and a variety of specialist ensembles focusing of different disciplines.
A particular emphasis of the department is supporting the local community with music, and pupils are encouraged to see their musical talent as a way of contributing to the wider society. Musicians make frequent visits to sing and play in a range of venues in the local area, from carol singing in residential homes to formal concerts and services in churches. In addition, our musicians take part in the vibrant local music festivals and achieve outstanding success in all areas.
Our musical facilities are excellent, with a spacious, purpose-built Music School complete with practice rooms and music technology suite. This adjoins the Queen's Hall auditorium – a 550-seat, fully equipped concert hall, complete with Steinway Model D concert grand piano and 30-stop pipe organ with mobile console, as well as state-of-the art lighting and sound systems. Queen’s College is an exceptional educational centre and the music teaching quality is high. Music is thriving at Queen’s; the musicians are highly valued and our musicians contribute enormously to school life.
A UNIQUE musical affiliation has been launched in Taunton. The Southern Sinfonia and Queen’s College have formed a partnership and the highly renowned chamber orchestra will become Orchestra In Residence at Queen’s College, a relationship which is exceptional in the area and possibly the country.
The Southern Sinfonia, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, has an outstanding reputation across the south of the UK for the international standard of its playing.
A series of concerts are now taking place in the 568-seat Queen’s Hall - these launched with a performance by world famous guitarist Craig Ogden followed by an evening of opera favourites.
Key to the partnership is benefiting the wider community in Taunton and beyond with both Queen’s and the Sinfonia keen to involve people of all ages in a range of musical opportunities. Each concert will have associate events open to musicians from across the region.
Mr Ed Jenkins, Director of Music at Queen’s, said: “The purpose of this visionary collaboration is to enrich and inspire the communities of Queen’s College, the town of Taunton and the surrounding area by providing access to live music played to the highest standard by an outstanding professional orchestra. We are delighted that we have been able to develop this partnership with the Southern Sinfonia; it is an extremely exciting project“.
“The residency will provide the vital opportunity for both parties to jointly develop a variety of educational projects for the wider community.”
Dr Lorraine Earps, Head Teacher, added: “We believe that music can be an extremely positive force in an individual’s life and that, by providing this access, we can enable children and adults to experience high-quality live music and, as well as deriving enjoyment from this, they can be inspired to engage more in music as both listeners and performers.”
“Both the Southern Sinfonia and Queen’s College have a strong ethos and desire to provide exciting and educational musical opportunities in the community for all ages and this collaboration will enable us to make this vision a reality.”
Simon Chalk, Artistic Director of Southern Sinfonia said: "We are all thrilled at the Southern Sinfonia by the launch of this very exciting collaboration with Queen's College.
"Having moved the orchestra's base to Taunton from its previous home in Newbury some 18 months ago, in order to cement our role as the Chamber Orchestra for the region, to find such a willing partner as the College is an absolutely magnificent opportunity for us to make a real and lasting contribution to both music and education in Taunton and the South West as a whole.
"Finding a 'true home' for any Orchestra in the current climate is often a luxury and, thanks to the visionary approach of the leadership team at Queen's College, we at Southern Sinfonia have been afforded such an opportunity.
"We look forward to what we believe will be a magical journey of discovery for both organisations."
There are a wide range of musical activities at school and given the tremendous expertise across the department, the standard achieved is very impressive. Pupils are welcome to join any number of the following groups:
College Choir – a large choir with membership across all age groups and includes staff. Members of the choir sing in assemblies and services with special visits to perform in churches and cathedrals in Somerset and beyond
First Orchestra – A full-size orchestra for more advanced players, performing regularly in concerts, assemblies and services throughout the year.
Wind Band – A large concert band for the more seasoned wind players which performs on many public occasions.
Swing Band – a smaller group for advanced players performing cool swing and jazz music.
Chamber Orchestra – featuring the more advanced string players.
Middle School Orchestra – for younger, up-and-coming musicians , providing invaluable ensemble experience.
Sound School – a saxophone ensemble performing exuberant arrangements.
Queen's College Choral Society – a larger choir of section of parents, staff and friends. The society performs in two major concerts each year, the second with full orchestra.
Chamber Music – Queen's has developed a reputation for thriving chamber music ensembles. As many pupils as possible are encouraged to play in string quartets, clarinet choirs, trio sonatas and similar genres and enjoy performing together.
Queen’s is highly renowned for its superb productions of musicals, two of which are produced each year. As well as singing and acting, musicians have the opportunity to play in the pit orchestras alongside professionals.
Recent productions include ‘Coram Boy’, ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Whistle Down The Wind’, all of which received outstanding critical acclaim.
To download the most recent Peripatetic Music Staff list please click here.