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Bolton Pupils Enjoy NCO Masterclass

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Musicians from Canon Slade and Rivington and Blackrod schools joined pupils from Bolton School Boys' Division and Girls' Division to enjoy a day's music workshop with the Northern Chamber Orchestra's (NCO) Wind Quintet.

The quintet spent the early part of the day performing for Junior Girls and Junior Boys at Bolton School and encouraging the pupils to try out different wind instruments.  They then performed a 20 minute concert for the 140 Year 7-13 students and spent time talking about their individual instruments and the demands of playing in a quintet.  The audience was advised that players need to be very aware of their colleagues and to be "always listening with your ears switched on".  The instruments demonstrated were the oboe, the French horn, the bassoon, the flute and the clarinet.

It was then the turn of the pupils, all musicians of varying ability, to go away into instrumental groups in order to prepare their contribution towards two pieces especially composed to be played later that evening in the School's Ensembles' Concert in the Great Hall in front of 500 parents.  Each rehearsal group was led by one of the NCO players.

The pupils were promised "a day of hard work" as they had to learn the two musical arrangements in one day, having never heard them before.  The first piece, Scenes from Bolton, was arranged by Mr Michel Pain, the School's organist, and the second piece, Ode to Aeolus, was written by Ben Smith, who left Bolton School in the summer of 2010.  Ben is one of the most outstanding musicians the School has ever produced and is currently taking a year out before going to music college in London.  Due to their skill and creativity, each piece had a huge array of individual parts so that players of all levels and experiences could be involved. 

All the pupils worked diligently throughout the day and the Ensembles Concert culminated with them performing outstandingly as a Massed Wind Band to a delighted and appreciative audience. 

Bolton School Boys' Division's Director of Music, Mr Stephen Martin, said: "I would like to thank the members of the NCO wind quintet, the two composers and the music teachers at Bolton School but, most importantly, the pupils that have taken part today.  This was a unique and valuable experience for everyone involved.  The success has been built around teamwork as the pupils from four different schools and of varying ability have worked together with the professionals in producing such an incredible performance." 

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NCO Wind Quintet

The NCO Wind Quintet performed to 140 music students from Rivington & Blackrod, Canon Slade and Bolton School

Practice makes perfect!

Through equal measures of skill and hard work the pupils learnt and perfomed the two new pieces before performing them to a 500 strong audience on the same night

Ben Smith and the NCO

Members of the NCO watch on as Ben Smith, who left the school less than a year ago, puts the Massed Wind Band through their paces