The Symphony Orchestra combines the talents of over fifty instrumental players who work intensely each week with a carefully structured programme of sectional and full rehearsals. It gives regular performances in the Memorial Hall to very large audiences and also uses the Ellis Theatre for more intimate events. Some of the best players and vocalists are invited to perform as soloists with the orchestra in the Lent or Summer Terms.
The orchestra’s busy schedule has included high profile charity concerts, outreach events for local primary schools and the exciting new side-by-side project with Marlborough’s professional orchestra in partnership, Southbank Sinfonia.
Filling Marlborough within and outside the College’s walls, the Chamber Orchestra aims to engage the whole community with wonderful string music. The intimate and flexible size of the ensemble allows us to make every detail of the concert experience worth the closest audience attention. We programme incredible music from the vitality of the Baroque masters through the warmth of the Romantics to the exciting flair of contemporary works all played by our outstanding performers. This is a transformational group.
At Marlborough College, we have a unique view on Chamber Music based on the experience and vision of our teaching staff in this field. We recognise its importance in building shared links across the various departments, its ability to bring pupils together both socially and emotionally through the extraordinary repertoire that is available. We therefore encourage chamber music from Shell through to U6 with particular regard for the dynamic of each group in terms of age, ability and social compatibility. We also recognise that life at Marlborough is full so prefer to develop Chamber Music performance through specific projects. Be it a workshop with a visiting artist or a formal or informal school performance. It is not unusual at Marlborough to find our pupils fitting in chamber music rehearsals before a scheduled activity, at night or after Chapel. The desire and drive comes from them and is guided and supported by the staff.
Brasser is a full wind band of seventy and is the flagship of the wind department, performing at concerts regularly throughout the year. The repertoire is varied, from contemporary works to the more traditional repertoire and, each year, the band is featured in the wind department’s own popular Christmas Concert.
Both the Wind Band and the Big Band have reached the finals of the National Festival of Music for Youth on two occasions, placing them amongst the top ensembles of their kind in the country. Brasser and Big Band recently toured South Africa.
The Big Band rehearses weekly and performs regularly during school concerts. The full-size line up of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and rhythm section plays a variety of swing and rock as well as traditional folk music. The ensemble provides as many opportunities for whole band improvisation and playing by ear as possible. This group is a real bridge between formal, teacher-led activity and more informal music.
Sinfonia Strings is a small, versatile and creatively fun string orchestra consisting of violin, viola, cello and bass pupils in our Shell and Remove. The repertoire is varied and appropriate for both the maturity and performance level of the children. Performances are inspiring and imaginative having included collaborations with story tellers and accompanying musical accompaniments to silent films. The purpose of the orchestra is to develop our younger students’ ensemble skills as they prepare to progress into our school String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra.
Any pupil in the Shell (year 10) or the Remove (year 11) who plays a wind, brass or percussion instrument to Grade 3 standard and above is eligible for the College Concert Band. This ensemble, usually about 50 players, exists to complement the weekly work of other groups that are aimed at the less experienced musician. Uniquely, the ensemble also contains Music Scholars from the Shell and Remove who are very experienced, often working at Grade 8 level and above, whose function in this context is to inspire and lead. Rehearsals take the form of a one day course in the Michaelmas Term which is repeated in the Lent Term, and includes sectional rehearsals with specialists as well as full ensemble sessions concluding with a concert for parents and friends at the end of the day. In the second half of the Summer Term the group rehearses weekly in preparation for a concert in the final week of the school year.