A unique and spine-tingling 11-piano ensemble marked ‘Steinway Day’ as Brentwood School scaled new musical heights officially joining the select handful of UK accredited Steinway Schools.
A special lunchtime concert, celebrating the delivery of four hand-picked Steinway grand pianos and seven upright pianos, saw guests moved to tears by both the exceptional talent on display and the beautifully-arranged multi-instrument finale.
Brentwood’s partnership with Steinway & Sons, a brand associated only with the best music departments in the country, makes the Essex school one of only 13 other Steinway Schools in England.
There was a palpable sense of excitement on the Middleton Hall Lane campus as the arrival of the 11 carefully-packaged pianos marked the official start of the School’s Steinway journey. The pianos had been hand-picked by Mr Cooper and five of the youngest music scholars during a once in a lifetime trip to the Steinway factory in Hamburg.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, the School’s youngest musicians joined celebrated Old Brentwoods, relishing the honour of being the first to play on some of the finest instruments in the world.
A visibly exuberant Director of Music Mr Florian Cooper, himself a former pupil at the School, wrote the moving 11 piano arrangement of both the School Song, laced with a Les Miserables classic, which bought the mesmerised audience to its feet. The hour-long launch concert, in the Wessex Auditorium, showcased the awe-inspiring skills of young piano scholars and the experience and musical maturity of some of its finest alumni.
Headmaster Michael Bond said: “Whilst we feel privileged to be joining this group of Steinway Schools, I think we can say without any hint of exaggeration or conceit that the quality of our music teachers and the students who work within it is such that we believe we will enhance that list of schools. In fact, the discussions I’ve been having recently with Mr Cooper have been about what it will take for us to claim with equal certainty that we have the best Music Department in the country - a big and audacious goal perhaps, but one towards which developments such as this one allow us to work.”
Steinway accreditation will ensure Brentwood School’s students will have the opportunity to learn on, rehearse with, be accompanied by and perform on the very best instruments in the world, enhancing the musical growth, understanding and excellence of its students.
Also in attendance was former pupil, Governor, and Chairman of the Royal College of Music, Lord Black of Brentwood, who commented: “It is fantastic that Brentwood School is making such an amazing investment in the future of music. The School already has an excellent reputation for music - and this inspiring initiative will build on that even further to the benefit of this and future generations of pupils.”
Mr Bond added: “We are putting together a long-term vision and strategy for Music and the Performing Arts that I think will put us right up there with the best in the country, and hopefully beyond. The future is incredibly bright.”
Notable musicians at today’s concert included Matthew Jorysz (OB 2004-11), Assistant Organist at Westminster Abbey; Matt Lewis (OB 2000-07) a multi-award winning trombonist, and former Brentwod School Directors of Music, Mr David Pickthall MBE and Mrs Hilary Khoo.
Steinway & Sons’ name has been synonymous with the finest pianos since 1853 and a high level of traditional craftsmanship, painstaking attention to detail, and premium grade materials used are attributes of every instrument hand crafted in New York and Hamburg.
Brentwood’s new piano family includes two model A/S pianos (for rehearsals and practice in the Music Department), one Model A for recital and concert use in the Memorial Hall and a Model B for masterclass, recital, performance and accompaniment in the Wessex Auditorium.
Today’s concert also included performances by First Years Oliver and Pippa; Second Year Bessie; Third Years Sophia and Alexander; Fourth Year Sammy, Fifth Year Connor and Upper Sixth soprano Hannah. Also Music Teacher, Mr Oliver El-Holiby and Fellow & School Organist, Mr Sam Barber.
Brentwood School’s Performing Arts Department was recently selected as the best Performing Arts School in and around London and on top of Steinway Accreditation, the flourishing faculty runs a Minority Instrument Scheme and the provision of free school instruments, to be loaned to students across the school.
The School is also rolling out an Endangered Instrument Scheme, which will be launched at the Brentwood Preparatory School in January.