Innovation is the key to House Music Competition success

More than 100 Tonbridge boys demonstrated their musical innovation and creativity during the School’s latest House Music Competition.

Boys from all 12 Houses played their own arrangements of classic songs spanning the decades, which ranged from Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, Radiohead’s High And Dry and When The Sun Goes Down by the Arctic Monkeys to ingenious acoustic arrangements of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.  

Members from each House arranged and performed one amplified and one acoustic song at the School’s EM Forster Theatre.  

The competition was judged on criteria including standard and variety of performance, musical innovation and age range of performers. 

Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s contest had a few differences. Instead of one large evening event, each House performed its music in the Theatre at different times during the week, with a maximum of eight boys on stage at any time.

Performances were filmed and a special show was then streamed on YouTube on Friday evening (16 October). The event included live elements, such as Heads of House Music taking to the stage to introduce their items, while a staff band also provided fun and live entertainment.

The competition adjudicator, Richard Mayo, Director of Music at Dulwich College, watched the entire event in the Theatre on Friday night, before giving his verdicts. He crowned Smythe House as winner of the House Music Cup, with Ferox Hall and Welldon House being runners up. A full list of winners is below.

Mark Forkgen, the school’s Director of Music, said: “It was a real joy for us all to experience live music in the EM Forster Theatre once more. The restrictions on numbers simply led everyone to be even more creative and inspired. 

“The competition’s success was a testament to some excellent teamwork between boys and staff in many different guises, including the musicians, the technical team and the film crew.”  

Mr Forkgen added that music has continued to play a key part in the life of the School since the reopening in September. “We have had to introduce a completely revised, Covid-compliant ensemble programme for all boys this term, but I’m proud of they way that everyone has risen to the challenge,” he said. “We have also run a full programme of instrumental lessons, both on site and remotely. 

“Music and the creative arts at Tonbridge have been in full flow since the start of term, and are among the factors making the new academic year so successful and rewarding.”

Boys were also involved in the stage management of the event, providing sound, filming and technical support.

House Music Competition 2020: Results

Winners of the House Music Cup: Smythe House

Runners Up: Ferox Hall; Welldon House

Cullen Shield for Best Acoustic Item: Ferox Hall for High and Dry

The Paul Gamblin Award for Best Amplified Item: Hill Side for the Piña Colada Song

Best Arrangement: Marcus Siu (Sc4) For Shape of My Heart

Pictured above and below: House Music performances at the EM Forster Theatre. Photos by Clair Miller.