Pupils at St Paul’s have a wide range of opportunities for group music-making, including orchestras, chamber music, choirs and jazz groups.
There are specialist groups like Percussion Ensemble, Drum Line or the Big Sax Group which cater for individual instruments. A typical Ensembles Concert will have an eclectic mix of musical styles, from baroque to barbershop and groups can range in size from a cello trio up to an 80-piece Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony and Chamber Orchestras are supported by two training orchestras (for strings and wind/percussion).
A large and thriving Chapel Choir and select Chamber Choir perform sacred and concert repertoire both in school and at prestigious external venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral and there is a concert choir and close harmony group that perform a wide range of lighter material.
Jazz is a particular strength of the department (with a loyal local following at venues such as The Bull’s Head in Barnes and the 606 Club in Chelsea) and many pupils take part in the Big Band and Swing Band, as well as a number of smaller combos.
Musicians interested in pop, rock and other styles can contribute through the annual Battle of the Bands, performances at the biennial Summer Festival, the Music Production club and PopSoc, a society dedicated to talks, debates and discussions about contemporary popular styles of all kinds. Singer-songwriters have also had success within the school and in outside competitions.
The ensembles programme is constantly evolving, providing a shifting focus where pupils’ talents can contribute most and ensuring that the music heard in the Music School remains vibrant and relevant.
A full spectrum of performance opportunities, from informal lunchtime recitals to large-scale choral and orchestral concerts is offered, as well as a Music Society that provides forum for musical debate and stimulating talks, mostly from distinguished outside speakers.
In addition, 35 self-employed professional musicians visit the music department each week to provide instrumental lessons.