Music at Bradfield plays an invaluable role in the development of each and every pupil, enriching the lives of all who come to the school. We enthuse and encourage those who are less able, or for whom music is less of a priority, whilst providing excellence for those who may want to continue studying and performing after school.
We believe music is to be shared and, as such, provide as many different types of performing opportunities, in as wide a range of genres, as pupils would like to be involved in. This environment allows pupils to enjoy expressing themselves with confidence and enables our excellent teachers to inspire them with their passions and expertise.
Pupils are encouraged to be proactive in starting their own projects and bands; our staff are always available to give the advice and support they might need in doing so. Please direct any enquiries about music and the ensembles outlined below to Matthew Lowe (Director of Music).
Choral and Chapel Music
*College Chapel Choir
The College Chapel Choir is one of Bradfield’s flagship groups. This is, perhaps, apt given the conception of the College in 1850 by Reverend Thomas Stevens, was to be a choir school.
The choir consists of approximately 30 auditioned members, chosen from all ages. It sings at a weekly Friday night service, all major festivals, (Remembrance Day, Confirmation, etc.) and enjoys a busy Christmas season with carol services in the College, local community and London.
The Choir also regularly undertake external engagements, having sung in Winchester, Gloucester, Southwark and Chichester Cathedrals. Most recently, they opened the Reading Crown Court at their annual service in the Reading Minster and were part of an exciting project with Royal Holloway, University of London.
Barber Shop Boys
Barber Shop Boys are an ensemble of up to 12 gentlemen who enjoy exploring the intricacy of both traditional and close harmony singing. Performing at functions both internally and externally they delight audiences with music from their wonderful array of repertoire, from 14th century sacred music to light cabaret numbers. This is an auditioned group, led by pupils, open to male singers who sing in one of the main school choirs.
Bradfield Bellas is an auditioned group of 24 girls, made up of all ages, who sing “A Cappella pop” in four-part harmony – comparable to its sister group at Barden! The group takes part in UK choir competitions and music festivals. They are not to be missed on the Bradfield stage.
The Gospel Group
The Gospel Group invites everyone to help raise the roof whist filling their soul with the joy of music. This group sings songs in close harmony, from spirituals to urban contemporary gospel and everything in between! There are currently approximately 40 singers in this group who rehearse weekly and who perform at least once a term.
Faulkner’s Choir is open to all in year 9. Explore and develop your love of singing, build new friendships and learn the skills of making music with other people: whether you are an experienced singer or someone who simply enjoys singing in your bedroom, this group is for you! The repertoire is popular and contemporary, rehearsals are weekly and the group prepares for at least one performance each term.
Bradfield College Choral Society
Bradfield College Choral Society are a group of singers from the local community who rehearse weekly at the school.
Small groups, in all genres, are the backbone to any thriving department, whether it be flute duets, string quartets, jazz trios or rock bands. We encourage the majority of these groups to be pupil led, associating with a staff member for input where necessary. Whether rehearsing for pleasure or preparing to perform, pupils will enjoy the opportunity to explore, with their peers, the music they love. In addition, finding a balance between personal responsibility and the groups’ success is often challenging; through this process, pupils learn valuable, transferable skills that will serve them for a lifetime, in whatever they choose to do.
Bradfield offers a balanced variety of larger ensembles with specialist teachers directing/conducting them. Using the skills learned in smaller ensembles and with excellent musical direction, these groups are able to shine and often represent the school at major events. All these groups rehearse weekly and perform once a term.
Big Band is open to all brass, saxophonists and rhythm section players. The Big Band plays all of your jazz and swing favourites. This is one of the school’s flagship groups, performing at all major school events.
Bradfield Brass is a specialist brass group, exploring the repertoire from the counter-reformation through to the film music of today.
Chamber Orchestra is an opportunity for string players who wish to develop their playing further through a wide variety of music. The group also offers solo opportunities to the elite musicians within the school.
Concert Band is an opportunity for ALL instrumentalists to be a part of an ensemble. Music is arranged specifically to cater for the needs of all, to ensure everyone can contribute to the performance at a level they are capable of.
Jazz Band is a gigging band that regularly play at events both in and outside the College. It is an auditioned group, suitable for a variety of instruments, singers too, and plays a wide-ranging repertoire that encompasses jazz, swing, funk, and Latin.
Saxophone Ensemble is open to experienced saxophonists of all year groups. The ensemble learns a variety of repertoire from arrangements of film scores to Cole Porter.
The Jazz ensemble enables our younger, less experienced jazz players in the College to be involved. The Jazz Ensemble is the ideal training ground for the first year or two, providing the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to join the Big Band and Jazz Band in later years.
Bradfield Blues Band
The Bradfield Blues Band is a relative newcomer on the scene here, but a popular one: the Blues Band is a versatile group that can accept a variety of musicians: singers, brass, reeds, backing singers, percussionists, guitars, bass, drums, and the list goes on. In recent years we have put on specific blues concerts with the great Robbie McIntosh (google him and be amazed at how lucky our pupils are to play with such a high-profile figure!)
Learn to Improvise
Have you ever envied those people who can just sit down and play? Improvisation isn’t just limited to jazz, and is useful in many different musical situations. Whether you play in the College Jazz Band, or have never played in a group before, come along and have some improvisation myths blown away by our amazing jazz pianist.
Music Technology Club
Pupils will gain experience of recording musical instruments, studio mixing, sound design and the use of music technology software to compose and arrange. This includes the use of digital audio software to create compositions, soundscapes and special effects.
This is the chance for pupils to leave their comfort zone and to take that first step into the unknown. It is an opportunity to have a dummy run of an exam/concert, experiment with a technical improvement or concept they are working on, to perform to people for the first time, to try to overcome performance nerves or just to get some additional feedback on their playing. This takes place in the safe setting of our Ensemble Room, with an accompanist provided, and an audience made up of the people that play and the Director of Music. Everyone is asked give feedback and be involved in discussing what was seen and heard to ensure a positive and friendly, yet challenging, class.
Singer/Song writing Classes
A chance for all the budding singer/song writers/composers to get some specialist input into their songs from people working in the industry. These are open to everyone so if you’re using garage band/ logic on your laptops then come, share your talent and get involved.
Music Theory Classes
Theory classes are for those pupils who need to complete their Grade 5 theory exam before moving on to Grade 6 or higher on their instrument. Classes are also to help those studying GCSE Music.
The list above is not exhaustive and tries to represent the main opportunities provided.
*Flagship group, performing at all major Bradfield concerts