After an eager wait, we were delighted to welcome Dr Quentin Thomas together with the Heads of all Oundle’s instrument sections and the talented musicians from Oundle School, for the start of a day of musicianship workshops and performing for our own Year 6-8 instrumentalists. 

The morning kicked off with our musicians trying to identify the various movements from Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ – first ‘The Tortoise’ and then ‘The Elephant’ – and being asked to critique the Oundle instrumentalists for their characterisation of the animals and their use of dynamics!

Various workshops followed with our children learning ‘The Tortoise’, and ‘The Elephant’ from scratch, and then getting to grips with an innovative and effective interpretation of ‘The Aquarium’.  The children worked in small groups with the Oundle musicians and the Heads of each instrumental/vocal department from Oundle whose expertise and enthusiasm was infectious.  We were extremely privileged in the time they spent with all our children and the inspiration and motivation they will surely have given them.


At 2.30pm everyone gathered in Bakewell Church for a wonderful concert. 

The Oundle orchestra – comprising the pupils who choose to take music as an extra on Wednesday afternoons – opened the concert with the first movement of Mozart’s 25th Symphony, which they are rehearsing to perform within the mad scenes in a forthcoming Oundle production of ‘Amadeus’.  

The audience was treated to clarinet and saxophone solos by pupils practicing for their ABRSM Diplomas (above Grade 8)!  We then heard a marvelous brass ensemble perform a complex and exciting arrangement of ‘Ticket to Ride’ before an ensemble of vocalists gave a magical rendition of the folk song: ‘She moved thro’ the fair’.  Our pupils also joined a Djembe ensemble for a short piece – showing how proficient they have become thanks to the tutoring of Mr Rawson at Djembe Club!

It was then time for the ‘Carnival of the Animals’ and our pupils made their way onto the stage amongst the Oundle musicians.  It was wonderful to hear our Prep School children tackle difficult instrumental parts and see them learning to follow Dr Quentin’s lead whilst playing.  Nobody was in any doubt that they were listening to pieces depicting the ‘Tortoise’ and ‘Elephant’.  There then followed ‘The Aquarium’ in which our children performed and ‘vocalised’ the effect of fish, supported by Oundle’s charismatic Head of Singing, before the wonderful finale performed by Oundle.  It generated smiles across the audience!

Our thanks to Dr Thomas and the staff and pupils from Oundle for giving our children – and audience – such a marvelous experience and a concert to remember!