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Sally-Anne Huang - Old Girl and Headmistress

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Battling Bands Impress with Original Songs

Friday, 22 April 2016

The annual Battle of the Bands was greeted with sunshine as boys and girls gathered to listen to the four varied finalists perform over the course of lunchtime. There was a buzz around the Arts Centre for the occasion as the crowd waited for the first of the bands to come on stage.

First up was Girls’ Division duo Riya Kalhan and Jess Wilcock, who are both in the Sixth Form, with their song ‘Plastic Barbie’. This was followed by an excellent mash-up combining Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ with ‘Count on Me’ by Bruno Mars. Both girls provided well-matched vocals, with Jess also playing the piano, and really set the bar high as the opening act at Battle of the Bands 2016.

Year 11 band the Parallel Oreos were the next band on stage, with pupils George Morgan on guitar and vocals, Hassaan Hussain on guitar, Jay Harland on bass guitar, and Adam Critchlow on drums. The group have competed in the last two Battle of the Bands competitions and won in 2014. They began with their original song ‘Taken’, followed by a high-octane cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’. All four band members gave an energetic and enthusiastic performance that was loved by the crowd.

Matthew Kay and Jay Harland changed the tone of Battle of the Bands again with their acoustic performance. Their original song was ‘Talk’, and they covered ‘Free Fallin'' by Tom Petty as their second number. With both pupils playing acoustic guitar and Year 12 pupil Matthew providing vocals, these two pieces were a great contrast to what had come before and were very much enjoyed by the audience.

The final act of Battle of the Bands this year was Year 11 band Mixolydian. In another tonal shift, Sophie Brown played the piano while Seren Davies sang to close the competition. The pair gave an expressive performance of their original song, ‘Wrong’, followed by JLS’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, executing both pieces with great confidence and poise.

The audience of Boys’ and Girls’ Division pupils was delighted to hear all four bands perform and thoroughly enjoyed all of the music on offer. The talented and richly varied performances made judging this year a particularly difficult task.

This year’s judge was Old Boy Tom Besford, Arts and Heritage Manager at the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust and a freelance events manager with lots of experience organising gigs and festivals. As each band played one of their own original songs, he took their songwriting skills into consideration in addition to their performance and musicianship.

“As you have all seen, it was an excellent quality field,” Tom said as he addressed the audience before presenting the prize. “I thought it was absolutely excellent, so well done everyone. Without further ado I’ll mention who the winners are. As I’m sure you all know, it was really tough, but I really enjoyed the quality of a lot of the songwriting especially, and the winners here, I thought that they did an absolutely excellent song and a really lovely cover as well. I’ve decided today to award this Battle of the Bands Trophy to Jay and Matt.”

Tom also offered the four Battle of the Bands finalists the opportunity to speak to him for feedback on their individual performances after the competition. Speaking to Mr Bleasdale and Mr Britton after the Battle of the Bands, Tom commented on how wonderful it is that pupils have opportunities to take part in events such as this in School. He was delighted to be invited to return to School to see the next generation of musicians.

The Senior Rugby Team provided crowd control in front of the stage for the duration of the Battle of the Bands.


Click here to watch Matthew and Jay’s winning performance of their original song ‘Talk’.

Click the song titles to listen to Matthew and Jay’s performances of ‘Talk’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’’ via the School’s Soundcloud.

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Riya and Jess opened this year

Riya and Jess opened this year's Battle of the Bands with an impressive performance

This year

This year's Battle of the Bands showcased a range of styles and great songwriting talent

Battle of the Bands winners Jay and Matthew receive the the trophy from this year

Battle of the Bands winners Jay and Matthew receive the trophy from this year's judge, Old Boy Tom Besford