Edward Elgar said, ‘There is music is in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.’ There can be few more inspirational backdrops than that of Canterbury Cathedral in which to share the joy of music and to have something for everyone is the very essence of a successful school and music department. In a school that prides itself on the strength and depth of extracurricular pursuits, the Music Department at King’s is recognised as a leader in its field.
With the important responsibility and immense privilege of singing weekly services in Canterbury Cathedral, which form part of the Cathedral’s wider context of worship, King’s enjoys a rich choral heritage and currently boasts 6 choirs, in addition to 3 further close harmony groups.
The Crypt Choir is the school’s top choir, which sings Evensong services and other important services across the year. The group also enjoys a busy schedule of concerts, recordings and tours. Madrigalia is an elite and select group of 16 top singers, which specialises in Renaissance and Baroque music. As well as singing Eucharist services in the Cathedral Crypt, Madrigalia also performs in additional services and concerts throughout the year, and tours annually. The Chapel Choir comprises singers from the top 3 year groups and meets once a week. The group sings Matins in the Cathedral Nave approximately four times per term, as well as the Carol Service and Commemoration of the Benefactors.
The Becket Singers is a training choir for the Chapel Choir and comprises members from the Shell and Remove (years 9 & 10). As well as their weekly rehearsal, the Becket Singers also form part of the Nave choir and sing selected Matins services.
The King’s Chorus rehearses for approximately half of the school year and performs twice annually, in a Christmas Concert and for our large-scale choral concert, in the Lent Term. Previously performed repertoire includes Will Todd's Mass in Blue (2016), Verdi’s Requiem (2015), Orff’s Carmina Burana (2014), and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (2013). All members of the Nave Choir sing in the King’s Chorus in addition to singers from across the school community, including pupils, staff, parents and friends. There is no audition.
The King’s Men (boys), King’s Swingers (girls) and King’s A Cappella (mixed) are close harmony groups, which meet twice weekly and perform at many of the school’s most prestigious events. Entry is highly competitive, by audition in September.
King’s is proud of its diverse orchestral programme, which includes three orchestras, as well as a large wind band.
The Symphony Orchestra numbers some 80 musicians, rehearses twice weekly and performs it’s own major concert each term. Entry is by invitation and many of the opportunities are rotated in order that more suitable candidates may benefit from this experience. Repertoire from recent performances has included Shotakovich’s Festive Overture, Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
The Chamber Orchestra is a smaller ensemble that tackles more demanding repertoire. Rehearsing once per week, the group also performs it’s own termly concert and highlights from recent years have included excerpts from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Strauss’ Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Berio’s Folk Songs from around the world and John William’s Escapades.
The Sinfonia is a training orchestra for string players, which meets weekly with the Head of Strings and performs a concert in the summer term. This group features a wide range of abilities and all Shell players will take part for their first year at least. The Wind Band is also a junior ensemble for wind and brass players from the Shell, Remove and Fifth. The group rehearses weekly and performs two concerts during the year, one of which is during King’s Week.
Jazz, Rock & Pop
A flourishing jazz department at King's comprises the school Big Band and two modern jazz combos.The Big Band is an auditioned group and entry is usually very competitive. Meeting weekly, the group performs in the iconic, sell out King’s Week Jazz Concert, as well as throughout the year in outreach and informal concerts. The jazz combos rehearse weekly, and a number are pupil led. The Jazz department produced it’s own CD, Last Summer, in 2015.
Running alongside the Jazz ensembles is a very active rock and pop music scene. Centred around the activities programme, the department runs junior and senior rock bands giving pupils a chance to develop the essential skills of performing in an ensemble. These are headed up with our King’s Week Band, which work all year to put on one of the most popular events of King’s Week. Taking on a complete album or ‘best of’ selection, each year this group performs work by a single artist or group, giving them a chance to perform to hundreds and even in an outdoor festival environment!
Pupil lead initiatives are actively supported and encouraged, with singer/songwriters working in the excellent recording studio and during their Sixth Form pupils will have the chance to be part of the team organising a charity rock concert (pictured).
King's Week is a unique festival of music, drama, art and recreation held every year at the end of the Summer Term since 1952. It continues to attract thousands of parents friends and visitors.
There are over eighty events in over thirty attractive locations ranging from jazz to dance, from classical music to a variety of plays, and from lectures to recitals. King's Week provides a relaxing focus in the period after public examinations and provides a glorious conclusion to the academic year.