The school has a long-standing tradition of musical excellence, both choral and instrumental. Over half of the boys in the school learn at least one musical instrument, and there are seventy music award holders. Tuition is offered in piano, harpsichord, organ, all the standard orchestral instruments, guitar (classical, bass and electric), saxophone, percussion, and voice.
There are several orchestras, bands, and smaller ensemble groups (covering all musical styles): the school has an extensive performance programme, both within and beyond the school. The school offers a series of masterclasses with visiting tutors. Each term there are several concerts and less formal recitals, including a weekly concert in the Octagon. Houses hold their own musical evenings and there is an annual House music competition. Jazz and popular music are actively encouraged and flourish.
The Music School facilities include two recital halls equipped with Bosendorfer grand pianos, a suite of teaching and practice rooms, a music library, a sound-isolated percussion and rock suite, and a well-equipped recording studio. Larger scale events are held in the school’s main hall which has a Copeman Hart organ and a Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano, or in the magnificently restored Chapel - the four-manual Marcussen organ is internationally famous and frequently used for recordings: Gillian Weir, Simon Preston and Kevin Bowyer have all made highly acclaimed CDs on the organ.
The school’s Symphony Orchestra is a high quality ensemble; recent works have included Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in a joint concert with Dorset Youth Orchestra and Howard Goodall’s Psalm 122, written especially for the school.
The Chapel Choir (which includes trebles from local schools and a number of ex-cathedral choristers) sings at all main school services as well as occasional services outside the school in Cathedrals and Choral Foundations.
Other ensembles include: String Chamber Orchestra, Big Band, Junior Bands and Junior Strings. Instrumentalists are also given every opportunity and encouragement to gain experience of playing with others in chamber groups and smaller ensembles, performing for the local community both within and beyond the school.
Music Scholars and Exhibitioners have curricular dispensation in the first two years for dedicated practice time. All musicians can benefit from the supervised practice offered in the Music School from 8.15 a.m. on most mornings.
Associated Board Examination Results
Pupils have the opportunity to take Associated Board exams each term, and regularly achieve a high rate of success. Over eighty boys have Grade VII or above. Last year 63 pupils took exams in a wide variety of instruments. The pass rate was 100%, 74% with distinction or merit and 44% were grade 7 or higher (including 4 diplomas).
Junior Chorister Scholarships
The trebles of the Chapel Choir are drawn from Hilden Grange or Yardley Court Prep schools. Junior Chorister Scholarships, with a value of approximately one quarter of the Prep school fees (£2,000), are awarded by audition to boys aged between 8 and 13 who are, or intend to be, pupils at Hilden Grange or Yardley Court. These scholarships, of which 16 may be held at any one time, are tenable for as long as a boy is a member of the Chapel Choir. Further details may be obtained from the Director of Music or the Admissions Secretary.