Beyond the Classroom: Latest News

The number and variety of entries below give a flavour of the breadth of activities that take place here at Shrewsbury.  If your particular interest is, say, Music or the CCF, please use the links on the left to navigate to its section where you should find a page showing just the news that you're interested in.

Please click on the news headline to display the detail for that item.

We also post regular snippets of news on Twitter. Follow us @ShrewsSchool

Latest News - Beyond the Classroom

2017

Friday 26 May 2017

  • 'Medea'
    A review by Maurice Walters of the Classics Faculty's bold, powerful and visually arresting production of Euripides' tragedy, performed over two evenings in the Ashton Theatre last weekend. .

    Medea, perhaps the most famous of Euripides’ tragedies, is an intensely difficult play to produce. Dealing with Medea’s own descent into madness and her inexorable journey toward a series of horrific, unthinkable acts – a successful production requires a careful balance of the sensitive and the dramatic. Paul Fitzgerald’s production achieved all of this in a professional, brilliant and quite spectacular fashion to provide a thought-provoking evening of entertainment that will remain in the memory for some time.

    The bold decision to present this play using traditional masks certainly presented a challenge to the actors – but one which they overcame in triumphant fashion. Expressive movement and careful modulation of the voice throughout allowed the audience to empathise and understand the characters they created, while the masks themselves – exquisitely crafted by Emily Stokes in our Art Faculty – really did allow us to see the action unfold as it would have been.
     
    The transportation of the audience into the ancient state of Corinth was further enhanced by the stunning and elaborately detailed set. The House of Jason, complete with its classical friezes and ornate wooden doors was of a quality one would usually associate with high-level professional productions and Medea’s appearance at the dénouement, rising above the house in her dragon-pulled chariot was a truly breathtaking coup-de-théâtre . A soundscape of eerie chamber music – dominated by mournful cello and lonely piano – cocooned the action in an atmosphere of deep sadness while the soft, subtle lighting plot effectively demarcated the different scenes, particularly highlighting the choral odes.

    Medea herself, played by Nina Churchill, presented with the audience with a woman defiant in defeat, determined to wreak her terrible revenge not just on the unfaithful Jason, but on the state of Corinth itself. Mysterious, angular gestures of her hand combined with some impressive vocal work to produce a disturbing performance rooted in a mature understanding of and sensitivity to the text.

    Her erstwhile lover, Jason, admirably portrayed by Rhys Trevor, drew us in to his frustrations and the simplicity and recklessness of his hubris and flawed logic. Creon (Angus Moore) and the Aegeus King of Athens (Dan Powell) both made easy work of complicated and intense sections of stichomythia – presenting their arguments and exposition with a naturalness and clarity which meant that the audience remained engaged throughout.

    The same could be said of the Tutor (Sam Browne-Swinburne), Nurse (India Eaton) and, of course, the Messenger (Will Shawe-Taylor) who worked hard to convey the emotional turmoil of Medea’s household and the human responses to the dreadful vengeance she unleashed on the royal family of Corinth. A special mention must be made of Reggie Bell and Alfie Wright, whose innocent and touching portrayal of Medea’s children heightened the pathos of her final, hideous action.

    In any Greek tragedy, however, it is the Chorus who play an utterly pivotal role – explaining exploring the action and the meaning in direct address to the audience. This, for me, was where the play really shone – the ensemble (Tiggy Cowan-Taylor, Amelia Cox, Mollie Matthews, Liv Moir, and Eleanor Niblett) worked brilliantly together to dissect the meaning of the preceding scene, to consider the consequences, and to foreshadow the darkness to come. A combination of voices in unison and solo highlights produced vivid and exciting odes that added to the momentum of the play as a whole.

    MHW

    To view a gallery of photos from the production, please follow the link: Medea - photo gallery

    You can also read more about the creation of the masks: Covering the Crime: The magic of masks in ‘Medea’

  • Salopian musician joins CBSO Youth Academy
    Fourth Form trumpet player Frank Coughlan (SH) has been offered a place with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Youth Academy after auditioning for their main Youth Orchestra last week.

    The Youth Academy is a chamber orchestra conducted by Michael Seal and the players are usually selected from the CBSO’s larger Youth Orchestra. It is unusual for Frank to have been offered a place in the Academy straightaway, as he is not yet a member of the Youth Orchestra.

    The Youth Academy’s concert this summer takes place in Birmingham Town Hall and will include performances of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9, Barber's Cello Concerto and Stravinksy's Symphony in Three Movements.

  • Gold DofE Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace
    Lucy Petch (MSH), Christopher Pearce (I) and Jake Samuel (O) enjoyed a day at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, where they were formally presented with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

    They were accompanied by Major Johanne Billington, who runs the Gold Award at the School. “The Award presentations are usually held at St James’ Palace, but on this occasion they took place on the lawns of Buckingham Palace,” she explained. “It was a beautifully hot and sunny day, everybody was in high spirits and it was a perfect opportunity to be able to get dressed up, enjoy the spectacular surroundings and soak up the celebratory atmosphere.”

    Every Award ceremony is attended by members of the Royal Family, who are introduced to groups of Award winners and their guests. This is the final year when HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh himself will be at the ceremonies, following his announcement that he will fully retirefrom Royal duties later this year.   HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex and his wife HRH Sophie the Countess of Wessex attended the ceremony on Wednesday. 

    “A number of ‘celebrities’ are also invited to the ceremonies to talk to small groups of participants,” said Major Billington. “Our cohort was accompanied by Steph McGovern, presenter of BBC Breakfast and BBC Watchdog.  She was extremely friendly and approachable, and the students had plenty of opportunity to chat to her.

    “The Award winners were only allowed one guest each, so families had to draw lots to decide who got the ticket! It was delightful to meet the parents of the students and hear their side of the story of the trials and tribulations of trying to complete the Award whilst still at school, the truth about how tough they really found the expedition, and how rewarding they found the volunteering section.”

    The Gold Award is a difficult one to achieve. Thousands of students from all over the world attempt it, but the number who actually complete it is very small.  It involves committing to three activities for 18, 12 or six months, in Volunteering (Service), Skill (Hobby) and Physical (Sport). In addition students have to organise their own five-day, four-night residential trip, and undertake a four-day expedition in wild country either on foot or by boat. When undertaken simultaneously with A Levels, this is no mean feat.

    “Of the 25 students at Shrewsbury who attempt the Award each year, only about ten ever get to the finish line,” said Major Billington. “With such a low completion rate, it's clear to see why it carries so much weight when students apply for jobs after university.”

    Security for the Awards Ceremony itself was not surprisingly very tight, but once the guests were inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace, they were ushered towards the lawns beside the lake where they were entertained by rousing music played by the Band of the Royal Marines.

    “We were then taken into different areas where we are met by a steward and a county Award Representative,” said Major Billington. “Here we were registered, checked again, and briefed on the proceedings.  Eventually we were all ushered into a 'horseshoe' formation in preparation for meeting a member of the Royal Family.  We receive more briefings from a representative from the Duke’s office who was a little of a 'warm up act' prior to the main event. Cameras were stowed away, phones switched off and we were all prepped on the manner in which we could address the Duke himself. For those in the know, it's easy to spot the undercover security and the discrete ear pieces.  The whole day is choreographed to the very second. 

    "Each group gets about ten minutes to speak with a member of the Royal Family. When Prince Edward arrived, he quickly put the group at ease and had everyone chuckling and laughing within minutes. It was clear to see that he very much takes meeting the public in his stride.  

    “Steph McGovern had the responsibility of introducing the students to the Prince and presenting them with their certificates.  She was extremely relaxed and personable and congratulated all the students on their amazing achievement.

    “The day finished with more formal photographs and a few more 'meet and greets' before everybody was allowed to disperse.  I felt very privileged and honoured to be invited to such an important day, and it was a fitting celebration of the achievements of young people everywhere who have invested so much time, energy and effort into such a rewarding programme.  Well done to everybody who has ever achieved their Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award."

Friday 19 May 2017

  • 'Medea' - photo gallery
    Please click on the image below to have a look at some stunning photos of the Classics Faculty's production of 'Medea', directed by Head of Classics Paul Fitzgerald.
  • Dancing in the aisles of Shrewsbury School Chapel
    Sunday Evening Chapel on 7th May saw something entirely new for Shrewsbury, as we welcomed the Birmingham Community Gospel Choir, winners of the BBC Gospel Choir Competition in 2015.

    It took only a few minutes before the whole of the congregation entered into the spirit of what was shared by the choir - joy, praise and enthusiastic singing, interspersed with some poignant personal testimony from the choir members.

    For 45 minutes pupils were totally immersed in the exuberance of the occasion, ignited first by an upbeat version of What a friend we have in Jesus and ending with nothing less than a glorious rendition of O Happy Day and Lovely Day.

    The evening concluded with choir members carrying their mikes down the aisle singing, whilst the keyboardists still jammed away up in the chancel. They gathered in the vestibule still singing and giving high fives to every pupil on exit... A night to remember!

    Revd Alex Aldous


  • Covering the Crime: The magic of masks in ‘Medea’
    This week sees what is possibly a first for drama at Shrewsbury. Almost 2,500 years after it was first written, the Classics Faculty are producing the Euripidean tragedy ‘Medea’, to be performed in the Ashton Theatre this Friday and Saturday (19th & 20th May) – and the cast will be wearing Greek masks which have been made in-house, thanks to the talents of the Art Faculty.

    The play’s Director, Head of Classics Paul Fitzgerald, says: “Having taught Medea as an A level set text for a number of years, I have always been drawn to its power to deliver. Produced in 431 BC, it still raises issues that are incredibly pertinent today: feminism, racism, love and loyalty and, of course, revenge. I wanted to hark back to a more traditional look and thought that the use of masks by the characters would create a powerful visual element. I looked on-line for masks to buy, but there was nothing out there that really caught my eye, so I decided to have them made. Thankfully, Art Mistress Emily Stokes was keen on my proposal to make them in school, got on board and the results are nothing short of stunning.”

    Miss Stokes used mod rock for the base of each mask and clay for sculpting the features of the face. "It was slightly more difficult to produce the masks for the Chorus of Corinthian Women as they required individually made hair pieces," she explains. "In painting the masks, I decided on a muted colour palette similar to the one used by Peter Hall in his National Theatre production of The Oresteia.       

    Mr Fitzgerald adds: “When you see the actors and actresses wearing them onstage, under lights, the masks almost come to life; they have a disarmingly powerful effect. They contribute to the look, the feel and the drama of the whole piece; I hope to adapt and use them again in future productions.”

    Performances of Medea take place in the Ashton Theatre at 7.30pm on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th May and tickets are free.

    To see more photos from the production, please follow the link: Medea - photo gallery

Thursday 18 May 2017

  • Piano recital by Arthur Yu (SH UVI) - a review by Mr Fraser-Andrews
    Shrewsbury’s latest pianistic talent began his farewell tour last week, but Arthur Yu made sure his impact will last for some time to come.

    In his first and last full length recital at the School, pristine technique and impressive command of Romantic idiom joined in a show of supple talent and breath-taking vigour.

    Arthur, the latest pianist to glide from the Maidment to world-beating conservatoire, steered the auditorium’s glistening Steinway (fresh from a Polish polish and extensive refurb) through a programme of early- to mid-Romanticisms with panache, dexterity and remarkably assured facility. Thoughtful programming allowed this young musician to make revealingly elegant links to the often classical temperament, particularly in the first half, which pulses under the skin of much of this music.

    Mozart’s enervated and tender A-minor sonata made a bold beginning to the evening which, while light on operatic tragedy perhaps, was strong on deft fingerwork and poise.  Something more of the night infiltrated Arthur’s rendition of the Nocturne in C minor, the wistful ache at the heart of the piece stylishly achieved with mature sensibility and comprehensive vision. Chopin’s third Scherzo inspired fluttering descents, lovely ethereal touch and contrasts to the exigencies of bravura passages which he despatched to a collective and appreciative gasp. Yet there was even more, as an artful, glittering rendition of Andante Spianato et grande polonaise brought the first half to an end.

    After the interval, Arthur explored the deeper reaches of the instrument. Liszt’s B minor Sonata, the high-price entry ticket to the world of serious pianism, was paid with change to spare. In a change of gear made to look near-effortless, Arthur managed to emerge from and return to its world of still subterranean colour and, in its fervours, stroke the purring Steinway bass into a roar. This piece demands much on many levels, but here was fine musicianship to match.

    Arthur concluded with Liszt’s La Campanella, the rippling peals and bracing virtuosity finding confident and energetic voice in one so startling young. Astonishingly, there was still enough left in the tank to replay the Scherzo as an encore, yet another triumph for the nurturing talents of Peter Bradley-Fulgoni and School House.

    As he heads north to the RNCM, Arthur can count on many more admirers following an evening as full of personality as this. Bravo!
    JRFA

Tuesday 16 May 2017

  • 'Sifaka' in concert - "a breath of fresh air in the Salopian landscape"
    Old Salopian, former Moserite and Music Scholar Sam Wilson returned to Shrewsbury last weekend with his six-piece band from Leeds 'Sifaka', who have been setting stages alight with their fusion of soul, rock and African blues. Review by John Moore.

    Arriving in the Maidment Building fresh from highly successful appearances at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Sifaka were a breath of fresh air in the Salopian landscape.

    Their music draws on many roots for its inspiration. The rhythms and sounds of contemporary African popular and traditional music, the rhythm and blues of the late 1960s in the UK, and even jazz inflections and harmonies make their way into the writing, which is always thoughtful, but powerful and immensely accessible at the same time. The musicians are all superb performers, whether on guitars, drums, keyboards or vocals, and in Sam's case on flugelhorn as well!

    Mared, their wonderfully versatile singer, leads the vocal line supported by Sam, who does a lot of the song-writing himself. Mared has a voice of quite extraordinary range and power, which is clearly one of Sifaka’s greatest assets. However, they are a band that is very much the sum of their individual talents, and that combination is a winning one, which will take them a long way we hope.

    Their latest single, Sun Down on Cape Town, is a superb piece of writing. Catchy, funky and with a great hook-line, one cannot help but love it. (Available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUaIKflb1u0)

    As a finale and to acknowledge the clear debt they owe as a band to the past, they finished with Joe Cocker's timeless version of the Beatles' With a Little Help from my Friends, which they played with complete conviction and authentic detail. The spirit of Cocker himself was almost visible in the room, so powerful was their rendition.

    The whole evening was started by a wonderful set from Cameron Bates (S UVI) on keyboard and vocals. Cameron is the real thing, blessed with a wonderful singing voice and genuine brilliance as a songwriter in his own right. The audience loved him, and it was terrific to see a current pupil so capable of supporting a professional act whilst still at school. He is a name to watch out for in the future.

    So, a wonderful evening of great contemporary popular music, with Sam Wilson leading the band so very well. We hope next year to bring other similar Old Salopian talent back to the School, and I'm sure that there will be even more to celebrate in future years.
    JFM

Friday 12 May 2017

  • “Thanks for the memory”
    Pupils at Shrewsbury School have created a magnificent mural for Sabrina House Care Home in Shrewsbury, which has been inspired by the people who live there.

    The project has been a collaboration between the School's Art Department, Sabrina House Care Home and Creative Inspiration Shropshire, a social venture established in 2014 by Dr Jane Povey to provide participatory creative arts programmes for vulnerable and isolated people in the local community.

    Shrewsbury’s Head of Art, Rose Shawe-Taylor, explains: “I had been wanting to do some activity with Shrewsbury School students which takes art into the community, and Jane Povey’s initiative proved to be the perfect opportunity. The planning stage was the difficult part; how to incorporate a diverse range of memories into a coherent whole. Then one of our students came up with the idea of a series of windows, rather like an advent calendar, and after that the design was straightforward.

    “Part of the fun was hearing the residents talk about their memories – from racing pigeons to driving a double-decker bus, and chatting to the lovely staff who made us endless cups of tea. I only wish that Dan, who was at Sabrina longer than any other resident, had lived to see the finished result.” 

    The residents and staff at Sabrina House have been thrilled with the project: “Having the students from Shrewsbury School visit Sabrina House has enriched the residents’ lives immensely. Those residents who are not able to socialise outside of the home can become somewhat isolated from the outside world. So having the girls and boys visit gives them the opportunity to interact with people from outside, which is particularly important for those residents who don’t have family and friends who visit.

    “It has been lovely to see the artists interact with the residents. Right from the first day when the artists were asking residents what they would like the mural to look like, it was plain to see a bond forming. The students showed a real empathy, far beyond their years, which was obvious to all of us looking on. The mural has become a talking point, especially when visitors see it. The residents take great pleasure in pointing out the various sections and chat about something in it they may be personal to them.”

    “Being a part of this life-changing experience was not only a privilege but it was also an honour to give back to the community,” said Nifemi Runsewe (MSH LVI). “Socialising with the elderly and the carers at Sabrina House was a key aspect of painting the mural. Not only were we able to ask the elderly people at the care home what memory of theirs they would like us to reflect on the mural, but we also got to know a bit more about them and their lives. So we were able to create a mural that was done with love, as art is the moment where work meets love.

    “The mural also brought us students a lot closer together. This project enabled me to feel a part of something a lot bigger than an average school project, whilst making friends I am sure to keep for years to come. At the end of the day, seeing the smiles on the faces of the elderly as they recognised which painting was dedicated to them was the icing on the cake because happiness is not from what we get, but what we give.”

    The mural project forms part of a wider collaborative programme between Shrewsbury School, Creative Inspiration Shropshire and care homes in Shrewsbury that has included concerts, sing-alongs and a hugely successful Afternoon Tea Party for guests from Sabrina House and Swan Hill care homes, held at Shrewsbury School in the spring.

    Creative Inspiration Shropshire has greatly valued the contribution the Shrewsbury School students have made this year in enriching the lives of residents and staff at local care homes,” said Dr Jane Povey, Creative Inspiration Shropshire’s Founding Director.  “The beautiful mural at Sabrina House marks the end of a fantastic first year of collaborative work with musicians, artists and chefs from the School.”

  • Instrumental Diplomas for four Shrewsbury School musicians
    Four Shrewsbury School woodwind players have passed their Trinity Guildhall instrumental Diplomas. These are the most advanced performance awards, which follow on after Grade 8 exams.

    Sophia Price (EDH LVI) (Flute), Henry Mayhew (Ch LVI) (Clarinet) and Jesse Mattinson (Rb UVI) (Saxophone) have now gained their ATCL diplomas, which is considered the equivalent of a first year undergraduate final recital. Sophia and Henry were awarded distinctions.

    William Bedson (Rb UVI) (Saxophone) took his LTCL, which is considered the standard of a third year undergraduate final recital at University. William is now the third Shrewsbury School student to have achieved this level, following in the footsteps of Henry Kennedy (I 2009-14) (Saxophone) and Nateewat Ruechuseth (Ch LVI) (Piano).
     
    “Obviously I am delighted with these marks,” said  Head of Woodwind Maria McKenzie. “They all should be very proud of such high level achievement for which they have all worked incredibly hard.”

Thursday 11 May 2017

  • Shrewsbury School performs Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas'
    The performance of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’ last weekend showcased some of the outstanding vocal talent at the School.

    Purcell composed what has come to be regarded as England’s ‘first opera’ in 1688 for performance in a school, so the roles suited our young singers very well.

    Heading up the cast were Sophia Price (EDH LVI) as Dido and Angus Warburg (PH LVI) as Aeneas. Both singers were superb and delivered their arias and recitatives with aplomb. Dido’s famous lament never fails to move and Sophia Price captured the spirit of this beautifully.

    Notable supporting roles were sung by Amelia Marriott (EDH LVI), Jessie Inglis-Jones (EDH LVI), Phoebe Morris (EDH III), Julianna Hinwood (MSH UVI), Amber Wilkinson (MSH LVI) and Will Hope (Ch V) and the chorus provided some final ensemble singing.

    The first half meanwhile was a sequence of solo songs by singers from all year groups. Angus Kincaid (Ch UVI) opened proceedings and demonstrated yet again his immense vocal talent, Fintan Simmons (Ch UVI) sang with warmth and charm and Emily Hartland (G IV) dazzled with virtuosity, but it was Orlando Williams (Rt III) who closed the first half and brought the house down with his consummate performance of the ‘Hole’ song!

    Praise must also go to Mr Moore for his superb piano accompaniment and the singing teachers Kathryn Turpin and Jonathan May for their excellent vocal tuition.

    Alex Mason, Deputy Director of Music

  • Announcing the winners of the Biology Photographic Competition 2017...
    The four judges of the inaugural Shrewsbury School Biology Photographic Competition had a difficult task to choose the winners from among the stunning images submitted in all three categories. The winning photos are displayed here.

    Junior Category (Third, Fourth & Fifth Forms)
    Winner: Nicholas Yale (S)
    Runner-up: Anna Cowan (MSH)
    Commended: Max Green (I), Danila Polyntsov (I)

    Senior Category (Sixth Form)
    Winner: Morgan Butler (EDH)
    Runner-up: James Crewdson (S)
    Commended: Miu Tran (EDH), Amelia Marriott (EDH)

    Staff Category
    Winner: Raymond Vardill
    Runner-up: Kate Bronner
    Commended: John Balcombe, Jackie Matthews

    Please click on the image below to scroll through the winning photographs. (Clicking on the magnifying glass in the top right-hand of a photo will open it up at full size.)

  • General Election Hustings
    On Wednesday 10th May, we welcomed all five Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for the Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency to Shrewsbury School.

    Report by Richard Hudson.

    Barely a month from the election, a packed Ashton Theatre was treated – and it was indeed a treat – to five-minute presentations from the five candidates for Shrewsbury and Atcham, a Q & A session and two-minute closing speeches in a Hustings chaired with military precision by Ed Plaut (S UVI) and Megan Redhead (MSH UVI) sitting either side of Mr Matthew Clark, whose sphynx-like demeanour gave no indication of his own political sympathies.

    Presentations were variously slick, confident, smug, complacent, passionate, wooden, mechanical, well-informed, self-contradictory, delusional – but always fascinating. The candidates revealed few surprises and in all but one case displayed loyal, if not always believable, admiration – even devotion – to their party leaders.

    Unsurprisingly, Brexit, hard or soft-boiled, featured heavily in the Q&A section, with only the Conservative and UKIP candidates personally convinced by the wisdom of the popular mandate. Other questions dealt with VAT on school fees, the balance between local, national and international politics, the integrity of party leaders, university tuition fees, EU staff in the NHS, low-paid workers in highly profitable businesses and the tax system.

    All candidates dutifully stressed the importance of the youth vote, even though a larger turnout by young people might benefit some parties more than others, and the fully-engaged audience applauded each candidate with admirable even-handedness.

    A drinks reception followed and, to judge from the headlines in this morning’s newspapers, nothing off-message was revealed in this more informal gathering.

    Clearly this is an enormously busy time for the candidates and the audience expressed its warm appreciation to them for giving up so much time, showing by their presence that democracy is alive and well.

    RTH

  • The Grove House Play 'The Penelopeaid' - review
    A review by Richard Hudson of The Grove's fantastic all-female production of Margaret Atwood's satirical drama.

    "History," says Mrs Lintott in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys "is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men … History is women following behind with the bucket." This certainly was the strong message portrayed by this short, punchy and wholly captivating production of Atwood’s feminist classical satirical fantasy. 

    The Penelopiad is Margaret Atwood’s (of The Handmaid’s Tale fame) witty rewriting of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, or parts thereof, from the perspective of Odysseus’s long-suffering wife Penelope, feistily portrayed by Niamh Thomas in Helen Brown’s all female production.

    Maintaining a kingdom while her husband Odysseus, played with mischievously arrogant self-regard by Flora Moreau, was off fighting the Trojan War was not a simple business for Penelope. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, played with a mesmerising mixture of metropolitan sophistication and flouncing vulgarity by Eve Hartley, Penelope must bring up her wayward son Telemachus (Betty Chau), face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay. And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids… It was a man’s world, and maybe still is now.

    Helen’s Brown’s visually seductive production does not reflect well on the menfolk, as the women, lounging around the bar in Hades, reflect on their earthly lives on Ithaca while Odysseus enjoyed himself for 20 years at Troy and returning from it. The actresses handled the brilliant script - part classical tragic pastiche, part Manhattan bar banter, part Ladies' loo gossip, part elevated Brechtian didactic theatre - with aplomb and very evident enjoyment.

    Minor parts were also wittily presented, not least the wonderfully dippy Oracle, played by Stephanie Christenson, emitting the conveniently ambiguous advice for which Delphi was notorious – perhaps the most famous example being, ‘Trust no one'.

    Congratulations also to the many backstage who contributed to a production which felt much more like a School than House play, and left the audience - or should have left them - reflecting on the ‘fake news’ patriarchal flavour of so much historiography.

    RTH

    To view a gallery of photos from the play, please follow the link: The Peneolopeiad Photo Gallery 

Friday 5 May 2017

  • The Grove's House Play 'The Penelopeaid' - photo gallery
    You've heard the stories of Odysseus: hero, giant-slayer, rescuer of beautiful damsels... But now his long-suffering wife, Penelope, gets to tell her side of the story, debunking a few myths along the way. Performances of The Grove's first ever all-girls House Play are in the Ashton Theatre at 7.30pm, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th May. Admission is free.

    Please click on the image below to open a gallery of photos of the production. (Clicking on the magnifying glass in the top right-hand of a photo will open it up at full size.)

Friday 21 April 2017

  • ISI Inspection Reports 2017
    We are delighted to publish the reports of two inspections carried out by the Independent Schools Inspectorate from 28th February – 2nd March 2017. The Inspectors’ findings and conclusions serve as a wonderful endorsement of all that Shrewsbury is trying to achieve and reflect extremely positively on the work of the staff, pupils and wider school community.

    The first inspection was a Focused Compliance Inspection, which concluded that the School is fully compliant in all respects with the highly rigorous regulations and boarding standards.

    The second was an Educational Quality Inspection, which reports on the quality of the School’s work. It focuses on two key outcomes: “the quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements” and “the quality of pupils’ personal development”.  In both cases, the School was assessed as “excellent”, the highest available category.

    The inspection process was part of a new ‘no notice’ format, which meant that the School was informed of the inspection 24 hours before it began.

    A team of five inspectors observed lessons, conducted formal interviews with pupils and examined samples of pupils’ work. They held discussions with members of staff and with the Deputy Chair of Governors, observed a sample of the extra-curricular activities that occurred during the inspection period and attended house meetings. Inspectors visited boarding houses together with the learning support and education resource areas. The responses of parents and pupils to pre-inspection questionnaires were analysed, and the inspectors examined curriculum and other documentation made available by the School.

    The full reports are published on the Inspection Reports page of this website but may also be downloaded by clicking on the links below:

Wednesday 19 April 2017

  • School Firsts
    Awarded to pupils during the final School Assembly of the Lent Term

    Each term a committee of Sixth Form pupils meets to award the School’s highest form of ‘colours’ – a ‘School First’. The committee members take their work seriously, for two main reasons: firstly, this is a good example of pupil power – while teachers may make nominations, it is only those ten or so Upper Sixth pupils sitting on the committee who have the power to vote; secondly, to retain the value of the ‘School First’, precious few are handed out.

    Nowadays School Firsts have been split into two types: sporting and non-sporting. Below is a list of those pupils who were given the coveted award for their exceptional contributions to School life in non-sporting activities.

    For his exceptional contributions as Governor of the Bastille Society and his dedication to the study of History:
    Ed Plaut

    For their commitment to and success in MUN:
    Max Morris, Max Yale and Rhys Trevor

    For their outstanding service and commitment to the CCF:
    Jack Lock, Rob Hartwell, Guy Morris and Will Hayward

    For the creation of the Humanist Society and chairing the Charities Committee:
    Alex Penman

    For their outstanding contributions to and success in Debating:
    Peter Stanley and Alec Barnes

    For his exceptional contributions to and highly successful leadership of the Quiz Society:
    Caspian Cowan Taylor

    For their unstinting and exceptional contributions to the musical life of the School:
    Joe Thevathasan, Fintan Simmons, Dan Orchard, Alys Howells, Nateewat Ruechuseth, Jemima Price, Ross Orchard and Will Bedson

Friday 24 March 2017

  • CCF cadets taking to the skies
    Members of the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force head out to the Long Mynd each Thursday to spend the afternoon learning to glide at the Midlands Gliding Club.

    This picture shows one of the club aircraft the pupils are instructed in, and also demonstrates that the RAF section in particular is popular with both girls and boys.

  • 'Fantastic Mr Fox'
    A review by Mr Middleton of a hugely enjoyable A Level Theatre Studies Examination piece, performed to a large and appreciative audience in the Ashton Theatre last week.

    There used to be a great 150-year-old beech tree by the side of a lane near the village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.  Known locally as the ‘witches tree’, it was a tree, so Roald Dahl’s children were told, where Mr Fox and his family lived in a hole under the trunk.  In turn, this story was shared with the children of the nation when Dahl wrote his timeless classic Fantastic Mr Fox.

    The Upper Sixth A Level Theatre Studies group chose to stage an interpretation of Dahl’s work for their examined performance piece and, whilst normally the examined piece is watched by a select few, this year the Ashton Theatre was almost packed out, such was the enthusiasm for seeing the work on stage. 

    A quick refresher, in case you need any reminding:    

             Boggis, Bunce and Bean   
             One fat, one short, one lean   
             These horrible crooks   
         `   So different in looks    
             Were nonetheless equally mean.    

    The three agricultural antagonists of the play were played by Katie Edwards as the obnoxious and obese Boggis (ably plumped up by a pillow stuffed under her shirt), Claudia Fang as the diminutive Bunce, and Ella Davies-Jones as the cider-swilling Bean.  Opening the play with some comic dancing from each of them immediately generated much hilarity from the audience, who were lapping up the larger than life characters.  Indeed, it didn’t take long before there was plenty of audience participation, too, with some energetic dancing from the front row of Johnsons, Bells and Peaks (as their children looked on in embarrassed horror).

    The eponymous Mr Fox was played by a dapper, bow-tied Dan Powell, who was very much at home as the enterprising and audacious pater familias of the fox clan.  Yet when he loses his tail to Boggis’s gun and, forced into subterranean incarceration and his bucolic way of life under threat, it is Mrs Fox (a glamorous and stylish Niamh Thomas) who comes to the rescue.  As Mr Fox bellowed out the rousing lyrics of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ (“Did you ever know that you’re my hero?”), Mrs Fox was prepared for battle, armed with flak jacket, machine gun and other assorted military accoutrements.  Mum was very much in charge!

    The Fox family’s forays into the farms of Boggis, Bunce and Bean required further audience participation (“Come on, everyone, dig!”) and one by one, we were taken into the chicken farm of Boggis, the duck and goose farm of Bunce, and the turkey and apple farm of Bean.  The Fox family, of course, included the offspring of Mr and Mrs Fox (requiring multiple swift costume changes for Edwards, Fang and Davies-Jones) and along the way, various other woodland creatures emerged to play supporting roles, including the flamboyant figure of Badger (Niamh Thomas’s dancing skills coming to the fore here) and the cider cellar-dwelling Rat. (I began to lose count of the number of roles Katie Edwards was playing!).  

    It was a fast-paced farmyard adventure with plenty of originality and laugh-out-loud comedy.  My eldest daughter’s favourite moment was when a rambunctious Bean (pedalling with difficulty on a children’s toy tractor) was scolded by Mrs Fox and sent back into the wings, bottom lip pouting and suitably berated.  Sophia, our middle daughter, said her favourite moment was when a terrified chicken laid a Cadbury’s creme egg.  If our youngest daughter had been there (it was past her bedtime and she would have been a distinct liability if allowed to watch the show), she would undoubtedly have found greatest pleasure in the doughnuts handed out at the end.  Her culinary vacuuming almost rivals the chicken thieving of Mr Fox himself…

    A finale of glitter balls, balloons and baskets of treats saw the children in the audience invited on stage for a final dance alongside the performers.  As the actors took their bows at the curtain call, they were met with a rousing ovation from an appreciative audience who had been treated to a quite wonderful evening of drama.  Performing to a young and unpredictable audience (never mind the notoriously hard-to-please theatre critic Giles Bell) was a gamble, but it was a gamble that paid off with the children (and adults) won over by the fizz and wit of the piece.  My children loved it; the fact that our ultra-shy middle daughter got up on stage at the end is an achievement in itself and testimony to the engagement of the piece.  The cast of five students gave us energy, wit and creativity in a short play packed full of surprises and theatrical innovation which nevertheless stayed true to the original charm of Dahl’s farmyard yarn. Fantastic!

    PJM

Thursday 23 March 2017

  • Art Scholars’ Exhibition and Dinner
    At the end of the first week of the annual Art Scholars’ Exhibition in the Art School, our 11 Art Scholars and their guests enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion and celebratory meal on Friday 17th March.

    Each of the Scholars had chosen a favourite picture to present and talk about before the Dinner, which led to a lively discussion about the work of many different artists, including Anthony Gormley, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cézanne and Velasquez.

    A presentation was made to the President of the Arts Society, Imogen Luczyc-Wyhowska (G LVI), for her good stewardship over the past year.

    The Art Scholars' Exhibition continues until 5pm on Friday 24th May in the Art School.

     

Friday 17 March 2017

  • 'Phenomenal Women'
    On Wednesday 8th March to coincide with International Women's Day, we hosted an event in the Ashton Theatre entitled 'Phenomenal Women'. Taking as its theme the title of Maya Angelou's rousing poem, the event provided an opportunity to celebrate our co-educational 'journey so far' at Shrewsbury School.

    Sara Hankin (Shrewsbury's first Housemistress) reflected on the first steps taken by the pioneering girls who joined the School as Sixth Formers in 2008, and some of the challenges and highlights of those early years. 

    The evening began with Abi Watkinson (G V) giving a spine-tingling performance of the poem 'Pretty' by Katie Makkai, with further highlights coming from three Sixth Form girls who took to the stage to speak about 'phenomenal women' who had inspired them. 

    It was (as even the men in the audience agreed!) an inspiring evening.

    Jasmine Lo (EDH V) gives her own reflections on the event:

    On Wednesday 8th March, the School gathered together to celebrate International Women’s Day and reflect on the role of women in the 21st century.

    During the evening we had a number of inspirational talks from Shrewsbury School girls. Abi Watkinson (G V) recited the poem “Pretty” by Katie Makkai, which angrily challenges traditional expectations that are still so often engraved into the brains of girls. It tells girls that “the word Pretty is unworthy of everything they will be. They will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative and pretty amazing, but will never be merely ‘pretty’.”

    Emma Gardener (G LVI) spoke about the rock music pioneer, Joan Jett. Hattie Bramwell (EDH LVI) told us about Martine Wright and how she became inspired to be a Paralympian after a life-changing accident in which she lost both her legs. Lastly Nifemi Runsewe (MSH LVI) spoke about gender inequality in Africa, and the dreadful and shocking situations in which many young girls are forced to live. All three of the Sixth Form girls explained what they believe makes a ‘phenomenal woman’ and what we should learn from them.

    Mrs Hankin described the early years of girls arriving at Shrewsbury School and studying in a predominantly boys’ school, and what we have done to change how girls are perceived in society. She described the challenges girls took before us in Shrewsbury School and the achievements they have gone on to make in their lives, showing us that even if historically girls have been considered the ‘lesser sex’, we can be and do whatever we want. Mrs Hankin ended her talk with a piece by Pamela Redmond Satran called ’30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30. It was originally written for Glamour magazine in 1997, to tell younger women about the things she really wished she had known earlier. It has definitely given all of us some advice!

    To close the day’s celebrations, all the girls at the School were asked to nominate who we thought the influential girls in the School were: those who commit themselves to different challenges and, in some cases, may even change history. We all thought highly of Nina Lange (LVI G) for playing in the boys’ 1st XI football team and breaking the boundaries of single sex sports. Issy Wong (IV G) was also commended for engaging in cricket and leading the School to success. Last but not least, Lauren Powell (EDH UVI) was given due credit as a leading oarswomen and for inspiring girls in the Shrewsbury community.

    On leaving the theatre, each one of us received a letter from OS Elle Gurden (MSH 2008-10). She was one of the first girls at Shrewsbury had most definitely made the most of her time at the School. As she was not able to attend the International Womne’s Day event on Wednesday, she sent us a letter telling us “to be brave and to be your own person… throw yourself into school life and you will love every minute of it… Floreat Salopia!”

    I believe this event not only lets the girls of Shrewsbury unite together as one and celebrate what it means to be a women, but it also helps us realise as young women to support, empower and fight for one another. It was a very enjoyable night for the students and teachers, motivating us to be the women we want to be.

    I must thank Mr Middleton for making this event happen and allowing us to celebrate the special day with all of us. He has gone through a lot of planning and work to let us all be part of such a memorable event.

    A film of Abi Watkinson reading the poem 'Pretty' was recorded for International Women's Day and published on the Shrewsbury School TV YouTube channel. To view it, please click on the image below:

Tuesday 14 March 2017

  • "Shrewsbury School music at its very best"
    A review by Mr Middleton of last Sunday's stunning concert in the Cadogan Hall, London, performed by the School's Wind and Symphony Orchestras and combining current and Old Salopian musicians.

    Any review of a Shrewsbury School concert runs the risk of very quickly exhausting available superlatives.  Forgive me, therefore, if I begin by proclaiming that the quality of musicianship at Sunday evening’s concert in London’s Cadogan Hall and the electric energy of the programme really had to be heard to be believed.  This was Shrewsbury music at its very best.

    After a Friday evening concert in the Alington Hall for pupils and the local community, two coachloads of musicians travelled down to London early on Sunday morning for a few snatched hours of rehearsal ahead of an evening performance in the grand venue of Cadogan Hall. 

    Following a reception for Old Salopians, parents, guardians and other friends of Shrewsbury School, the concert opened with Sir Malcolm Arnold’s rousing Scottish Dances performed by the Wind Orchestra and conducted with typical verve by Maria McKenzie.  As a Scotsman recovering from the humiliation of the Calcutta Cup the day before, the ebullience of the four movements did wonders in restoring my deflated mood, the soaring flutes and earthy clarinets almost transporting me back to the heath and heather of homeland. Ah, ye bonny banks and braes…

    There was no time to become too misty-eyed and home-sick, however, for there soon came the first of the solo items: Steffan Williams (O) performing the first movement of Horovitz’s Euphonium Concerto. This was an extraordinarily complex piece played with aplomb by this highly talented musician, a final year student who is off to study Human Sciences at Oxford University next year and is no doubt destined for great things.

    Greatness was likewise evident in the extraordinary performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major by Nateewet Ruechuseth (Ch).  Played from memory and with an exhilarating energy combined with control and poise, the performance was a tour de force and an outstanding achievement from such a young musician.  Four hours of practice a day, I’m told, is what it takes to play to this kind of standard, and I don’t doubt it, such was the faultless quality of the performance. 

    Similar poise and effortless musicianship was evident in the third of the solo items, Upper Sixth Former Jemima Price taking the stage to perform Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra.  We were treated to yet another masterclass, with Jemima’s beautiful tone and timbre mellifluously rising and falling with the cadence of the piece. She fully deserved the rapturous applause that was bestowed upon her by an appreciative and highly impressed audience.

    As we moved towards the Interval, we were treated to the glorious Finlandia by Sibelius, a rousing hymn to the composer’s home nation underscored by a political tension resulting from the oppression of Russian rule under Tsar Nicholas II.   The context of the piece is fascinating, but as a piece of music it is sublime and a fitting way to end the first half of the concert.  Most wonderful of all was the fact that the piece was conducted by Old Salopian Henry Kennedy (I 2009-14, who is now studying clarinet and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. His energetic command of the orchestra on the conductor’s rostrum was enthused about over half-time glasses of wine by audience members drowning in superlatives.

    A shorter second half provided us with two final gems: Haydn’s ‘London’ Symphony in D Major and Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No 2.  The first is a firm favourite amongst Salopians and the Cadogan Hall was, of course, a fitting occasion to perform this work commissioned during the second of Haydn’s two London residencies in England.  First performed at the King’s Theatre on 4th May 1795 led by the composer himself, Haydn wrote in his diary that “the whole company was thoroughly pleased and so was I.  I made 4000 gulden on this evening: such a thing is possible only in England”.  The Shrewsbury School version was conducted by Director of Music John Moore who, whilst not earning 4000 gulden for his efforts, can nevertheless be equally pleased with the performance of the symphony and the skilled manner in which his musicians brought the piece alive.

    I hope I haven’t exhausted the superlatives entirely, for the final piece, certainly for me, was the most memorable performance of the evening.  With an orchestra composed of pupils, staff, music teachers and Old Salopians, we were soon given something quite strikingly different to Haydn with the hypnotic swish and sway of the Mexican composer Márquez.  In his own words, the Danzón is “a music full of sensuality and qualitative seriousness… which old Mexican people continue to dance with a touch of nostalgia and a jubilant escape toward their own emotional world.”  The six-strong percussion section were in their element on bongos, snare, timpani, bass drum, maracas and woodblock, and John Moore seemed to be less conducting and more dancing, such was the fun he seemed to be having with the music.  It was infectious and whilst the audience showed suitable English restraint and limited their outpouring of emotion to the odd tapping of toe or nodding of head, the finale was met with a standing ovation from members of the audience and even a whoop or two (possibly from the Headmaster). 

    John Moore once again created a mesmerising evening of music along with his team of staff and of course his wonderful musicians both Salopians present and past.  Bravo!
    PJM

    A footnote from Director of Music, John Moore:

    I would like to express my deep gratitude to those Old Salopian Musicians who gave up their Sunday to come and take part in the concert: Chris Carver (viola), Patrick Craig (harp), Ollie Darrington (percussion), Sam Grainger (viola/recording engineer), Richard Hudson (trombone), Andrew Hughes (cello), Louise Hughes (Violin) (OS Elect), Henry Kennedy (clarinet/conductor), Laura Nightingale (cello) Henry Southern (percussion), David Theodore (oboe), Alastair Thomas (bassoon), Henry Thomas (trumpet).

    We are immensely proud of these wonderful musicians, and it was also so heartening to see many more OS musicans during the course of the day and in the audience at the concert in the evening. Following on from the highly successful Epiphany Evensong in St Mary-le-Bow Church in London in January, the Cadogan Hall concert further strengthens the links between the School and its wonderful extended Salopian community. We will hope to plan more events for the future, and what our pupils gain from this contact is immeasurable.

    Floreat Salopia.

Friday 10 March 2017

  • Organist Fintan Simmons (Ch UVI) performs in London and Lichfield
    There has been a welcome renewal of interest in organ playing here at Shrewsbury in recent years, with eight pupils currently learning the instrument. This week saw Fintan Simmons (Ch UVI) perform on two occasions: first at Lichfield Cathedral, and the following day at St Lawrence-Jewry in the City of London.

    Fintan’s Lichfield performance was before Evensong on Monday 6th March at which our own Chapel Choir performed (see report). His London performance the following day was part of a series at St Lawrence-Jewry featuring talented young organists from schools across the UK. Fintan shared his lunchtime concert with two organ pupils from Tonbridge School and he performed three pieces by Bach, Mendelssohn and William Mathias.

    One of the main challenges for the organist is adjusting to different instruments in a short space of time. Fintan managed this brilliantly, going from the ‘Romantic’ Hill organ (built in 1884) in Lichfield to the ‘modern’ Klais organ (2001) in St Lawrence-Jewry with effortless ease. On both occasions Fintan made imaginative use of the organs’ stops and showed off some nimble footwork in the Bach and some rhythmic playing in the Mathias.

    There are some interesting Salopian connections with both places: Mr Mason was Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls’ Choir at Lichfield Cathedral; the father-in-law of Fintan’s Housemaster, Richard Hudson, built the organ at St Lawrence-Jewry before the Klais; and Catherine Ennis, Organist of St Lawrence-Jewry, is a former Salopian parent.

    There is an opportunity to hear Catherine Ennis play a recital in the School Chapel on Wednesday 14th June at 6.30pm as part of our summer series, so do put the date in your diaries now!
    Alex Mason, Assitant Director of Music

  • ‘ShrewsMUN’ - Shrewsbury School’s inaugural Model United Nations Conference
    United Nations flags fluttered proudly above the Main School Building last weekend, to welcome more than 100 delegates representing countries from all over the world to the inaugural Shrewsbury School Model United Nations Conference.

    Devised and organised by a small and extremely hard-working Executive Committee made up of Sixth Form students led by Secretary General Ed Plaut (S), ShrewsMUN 2017 was hailed an outstanding success by delegates, organisers, Chairs of Committees and accompanying members of staff alike.

    Together with Ed, Deputy Secretary General Max Morris (S), Joint Heads of Press Michael Schützer-Weissmann (S) and James Whitaker (Rt) and Head of Media Sebastian Hervas-Jones (S) had collectively put in hours of work in the weeks and months leading up to the Conference. They were supported, too, by a team of fellow ‘MUN-ers’ who took on the roles of Chairs of Committees and Presidents of the Security Council, preparing resolutions, and researching and writing briefing notes for delegates. 

    The Committee were delighted that seven schools from across the UK signed up for the Conference and they were particularly thrilled that two teams from Frankfurt International School travelled over from Germany. They were also very honoured to welcome Justin Bedford, Head of the UN Strategy Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to give the Keynote Speech at the opening General Assembly – particularly given the fact that he had spent the previous week travelling in China and South Korea and had flown back to the UK only the day before. He gave a fascinating insight into the world of international diplomacy, and answered very skilfully some challenging and probing questions.

    The Keynote Speaker in the final General Assembly was former Head of School Esmé O’Keeffe (MSH 2013-2015), a talented and enthusiastic ‘MUN-er’ during her two years at Shrewsbury, who is now at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge studying French and Italian. She spoke about her experience last summer working for a humanitarian aid agency in the Ukraine and her research for a report she had written for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  As Ed Plaut said in his vote of thanks, she demonstrated to the ShrewsMUN delegates “that these issues are not as removed from us as we might think, and that we do not have to wait to make a difference to those things we debate at MUN”.

    During the course of the weekend, the ShrewsMUN delegates debated some of the major global issues currently being discussed in the ‘real’ United Nations, including the question of migration, the Syrian Civil War, sustainable energy in developing countries, cyber warfare, the use of drones in war and the treatment of terror subjects.

    Work in the each of the six Committees was intense and productive. In their closing remarks in the final General Assembly, all of the Chairs of Committees paid tribute to their respective teams of delegates for the high quality of debate – commenting that it made the awarding of Commended, Highly Commended and Outstanding Delegates difficult to decide.

    "It was great to see all of our hard work and hours of preparation pay off over the weekend, as everything worked extremely smoothly," Ed said at the end of the Conference. “Everyone really enjoyed their weekend and learned a great deal, either as a delegate, a chair, or on the organisation side of things."

    Michael Schützer-Weissmann  agreed: “Given Shrewsbury's prolific MUN record, it's extraordinary that we have had to wait until 2017 for our own ShrewsMUN conference. But no matter - it was well worth the wait.  For me, the key to this conference's success was its almost entire dependence on pupils' commitment and initiative."

    As joint Heads of Press, Michael and James were responsible for producing a newspaper during the weekend, which they published in time to hand to delegates in the final General Assembly. Meanwhile Sebastian, as Head of Media, roamed the Conference with his camera and put together two films that captured the lively spirit and positive atmosphere of the Conference. 

    Speaking at the end of the Conference, Ed Plaut was warm in his thanks not only to his fellow organisers but also to the members of staff who gave up their weekend to help with the Conference. In particular he paid tribute to Mr Peach, Master in Charge of MUN. “He is the man I must credit with not only introducing me to MUN, but supporting me and mentoring me every step of the way, including to the end of this conference. His leadership of MUN has irrevocably and positively shaped generations of Salopians, who, like me, are eternally grateful for all the hours that he has put into us as MUNners, but more importantly as people. ...He believed in our vision for the conference, and let us run with that vision with complete control, for which we are so thankful.”

    Mr Peach expressed his huge pride in their achievement. “Ed, Max and their team of committee chairs, administrative staff, delegates and journalists shouldered the vast majority of the planning and work for this conference and were a tremendous credit to themselves and Shrewsbury School. Because this conference was their brainchild, they ‘owned’ it, and were thus determined to make their conference a success. It's strange, but true, but some of the greatest moments that I have experienced in my teaching career (and this was definitely one of them!) have come from standing to one side, doing very little and just watching as talented stars of the future like Ed and his team take flight.”

    Ed concluded the Conference with his favourite quote, from Ronald Reagan:
    “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

    Ed, James and Sebastian gave a very engaging interview on Radio Shropshire shortly before the start of the Conference on Saturday morning. Please follow the link to listen to it and scroll forwards to 2:17:15 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04sx4st


Thursday 9 March 2017

  • Chapel Choir trip to Lichfield Cathedral
    On Monday 6th March the Chapel Choir sang Evensong in Lichfield Cathedral to a large congregation of parents, staff and locals.

    Shrewsbury is part of the Lichfield Diocese, so it was good to return to our ‘local’ Cathedral once again, the Chapel Choir having last sung there in 2012. Indeed our connections with Cathedral and School have been strong over the years, with many Lichfield choristers joining the ranks of Shrewsbury Music Scholars.

    The Cathedral itself is an extremely impressive building and its three medieval spires dominate the countryside for miles around. The magnificence of the architecture certainly inspired the Choir in their singing of music by Herbert Howells and Antonio Lotti.

    Opening with Ayleward’s Responses and Psalm 32, the Choir then embarked on Howells’ setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis written in 1945 for the choir of King’s College, Cambridge and known affectionately as ‘Coll Reg’ in choral circles. This piece is one of the high points of 20th century ‘Cathedral’ music and has some wonderful soaring lines for the sopranos, exquisite close harmony for the sopranos and altos, and muscular phrases for the tenors and basses, all of which were sung with great confidence and finesse by the Chapel Choir.

    Ben Higgins’ (S UVI) solo at the start of the Nunc Dimittis was delivered with great sensitivity and control, with the full Choir accompanying in hushed tones.

    The anthem was Lotti’s well-known setting of part of the Creed, ‘Crucifixus’, in eight parts, composed 1717-19. This has become a firm favourite of the Choir and they brought out the expressive qualities in the harmony with great care.

    In addition to the superb choral singing, there was some fine organ playing before and after the service by Fintan Simmons (Ch UVI) and Dr Godwin.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

  • Art Scholars' Exhibition 2017
    We are getting ready for our annual Art Scholars' Exhibition, which opens on Monday 13th March in the Art School and runs until Friday 24th March.

    A few examples of the work that will be on show are included here.

    Please click on the main image below to open the gallery of images and click again to scroll through them.

Friday 3 March 2017

  • Lenten Supper and Reflections
    Last Saturday 125 pupils and staff enjoyed an evening meal and series of talks by the artist Paul Hobbs to mark the start of Lent. Report by Hattie Bramwell (EDH LVI).

    This was a new idea brought to the School by Reverend Aldous and seems to have had many great reviews, with everyone present having a fantastic night. The evening included pupils from across all year groups and houses, with a set seating plan and smart dress code. The Lenten Supper began with drinks which preceded a lovely meal provided by KH.

    In between courses we were privileged to have the artist Paul Hobbs talking about his artwork and how it related to faith in modern life. He even brought some of his exhibits to the meal, including ‘The Gate’, which is a small wooden gate that stands by itself, referring to the invitation from Jesus to “enter through the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13). More of Mr Hobbs’ work was on display in the gallery in the Art School from Saturday to Tuesday (and please follow the link to visit his website: https://www.arthobbs.com/)

    After the Lenten Supper there were also four Lenten talks spread over Monday and Tuesday by Revd Henry Corbett, who is attached to the Shewsy, Shrewsbury School’s Youth and Community Centre in Everton, Liverpool. He particularly spoke very honestly about whether Christianity is “worth it?”, making these discussions engaging, especially when pancakes were involved on Tuesday night!

    After the success of this year, hopefully we can look forward to the Lenten Supper becoming an annual occasion.

    Hattie Bramwell (EDH LVI)

  • Mr Middleton's 'Have a Go Friday'
    Over the course of the last two terms, Deputy Head (Co-Curricular) Peter Middleton has challenged himself to try something new each week – what has become known as ‘Have a Go Friday’. This has seen him take part in numerous co-curricular activities alongside the pupils, experiencing something of what it feels like to be a pupil out of their comfort zone and trying something for the first time.

    The idea started somewhat by accident during a badminton session that Mr Middleton was covering where he decided (dressed in full three-piece tweed suit!) to ‘have a go’. 

    From that Friday onwards he has sought to challenge himself each week with something new. In his own words, he has been outmanoeuvred on rugby field and football pitch, outclassed on lacrosse field and netball court, and experienced what he describes as ‘utter trepidation’ ahead of a public performance (playing piano at a Friday lunchtime concert in the Maidment Auditorium).

    He’s been up at the crack of dawn to take part in a Strength & Conditioning session, rowed in a boat for the very first time, and last Friday was up early before lessons to take part in a dance masterclass given by choreographer Sîan Archer and Upper Sixth Former Niamh Thomas (G). 

    Whilst the hashtag #haveagofriday may not have quite gone viral on Twitter (yet!), the idea seems to be spreading.  Mr Middleton was joined at the dance session by three of the U16 rugby team (Fingal Dickins, Frank Morris and Harry Remnant) who were keen to ‘have a go’ at something new.  After 45 minutes, the resulting routine can be viewed in the video on the Shrewsbury School TV YouYube channel by clicking on the image below. (Please note that for copyright reasons, the sound has been muted by YouTube - though the dance routine is entertaining even without the soundtrack! The dance with the music can be enjoyed on Twitter.)

    To read a fuller account of Mr Middleton's 'Have a Go Friday' experiences and see more photos from previous weeks, please follow the link: Shuttlecocks and Schubert: 'Have a Go Friday' and the value of challenge. 

    You can follow Mr Middleton on Twitter @ShrewsburyDHCC.

  • Shrewsbury School dancers and musicians get ready for 'Happily Ever After?'
    On Tuesday 7th March, we look forward to our first ever Dance Showcase event, which will be held in the Ashton Theatre at 8.30pm. Dance teacher Sîan Archer explains some of the background to what promises to be a wonderful evening.

    Towards the end of the last academic year, I was approached to see if I would like to oversee and assist some Shrewsbury School students in their production of a dance showcase event. This is something that has been a real pleasure to be involved in, and I have enjoyed working with some very talented students.

    Since the start of Lent Term, Niamh Thomas (G UVI), Angel Chan (EDH V), Fiona Lim (EDH LVI) and Anya Tonks (MSH IV) have been working hard on their dance pieces for a showcase on the evening of Tuesday 7th March, which will be held in the Schools Ashton Theatre The event is entitled ‘Happily Ever After?’, and each piece is connected through a fairy-tale theme.

    Niamh’s piece ‘I wana be a real doll’, is based on the tale of Pinocchio and explores the idea that ballet and dance is not all sweetness and light but can have a much darker side. She looks at the ideas that dancers strive to be perfect like a doll and the pressures that this brings.

    Anya has created a contemporary dance called ‘Cinderella Story’, which looks at the title character longing to be someone else, the girl she was before her stepmother arrived. Anya’s dance is supported by vocals from Jessie Inglis-Jones (EDH LVI), with Jessie portraying the once happy Cinderella and Anya the fairy-tale character that we all know.

    Angel and Fiona have collaborated to produce a piece entitled ‘Into the Mirror’. This is a dance that looks at the story of Snow White and focuses on the devastating impact of greed.

    The showcase is tied together by a selection of musical numbers from Broadway hit musical ‘Into the Woods’ that has been put together and rehearsed by Dan Powell (Ch UVI) and friends.

  • Churchill's Hall House Play: 'Julius Caesar'
    A review by Helen Brown, Director of Drama.

    Tackling one of Shakespeare’s most famous and oratorically brilliant plays is hugely ambitious for a House production, but the Churchill’s boys have never been afraid of a challenge. Julius Caesar feels almost prophetically significant in the current political climate, with its story of would-be dictators, cynical demagogues and ruthless coups d’état.  

    The play opens on the streets of Rome, where the people are celebrating the return of Caesar after a string of great military victories. Directors Richard Hudson and Fintan Simmons had chosen to set the play in an unnamed Fascist state: the banners and brutalist architecture of Niki Holmes’ set design harked back to the menace of the 1930s.

    Caesar, played with confidence and maturity by Elliot Crossley, is a man on top of his game; he has conquered the world and returned to receive the adoration of the masses. Among the sycophants and toadies who surround him, he depends upon the love and loyalty of his wife, Calpurnia (Anna Cowan) and dearest friend, Mark Anthony (Toby Pattinson).

    It quickly emerges that the political machinations of the Senate can be harder to navigate than a battlefield, and Caesar finds himself surrounded by plots and conspirators. Chief among these are the ambitious and cynical Cassius – played by a brilliantly slimy Rider Hartley – and the honourable Brutus (Tim Lovick). Brutus’ decision to murder Caesar stems from a genuine desire to preserve the republic, and Lovick’s performance left the audience in no doubt that this truly was "the noblest Roman of them all".

    Caesar’s death leaves a power vacuum, and there is no shortage of men wishing to fill it. His funeral becomes a masterclass in spin, as one side and then the other takes to the podium hoping to manipulate and harness the power of the people. Brutus speaks first, but his bluff honesty is overshadowed by the rhetorical fireworks deployed by Mark Anthony, whose address to "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" is perhaps Shakespeare’s most brilliant piece of writing. It is always difficult to reinterpret a speech that your audience know by heart, but Toby Pattinson managed to bring a powerful sense of immediacy to these famous lines.

    The second half of the play – largely cut in this production – follows the civil war that follows Caesar’s death, culminating in the rise of Octavius (Harry Remnant) as the new dictator. Appearing in the dead Caesar’s regalia, he left the audience in little doubt that while names and faces may change, the archetypes of politics do not.

    To open up a gallery of photos please click on the main image below and click again to scroll through the images. (Photos by William Temple https://william-temple.com/)

Friday 24 February 2017

  • Sponsored Walk total reaches £100,000
    Having originally set ourselves an ambitious target of raising £70,000 from our Whole School Sponsored Walk for our youth club in Everton, Shrewsbury House ('the Shewsy'), we were thrilled when we were able to announce in October that the total had reached £80,000. Now, thanks to the fantastic support of the School Governors, that figure has grown to a magnificent final total of £100,000.

    This is double the amount raised by the last Sponsored Walk in 2011.

    "Club members and staff have been completely overwhelmed by the amount raised," said Dave Brereton, Senior Youth Worker at the Shewsy. "This funding is a lifeline for the young people of Everton. It has given all of us at the club a massive boost to morale and to what we are able to plan for the immediate future. Thank you!”

     

    For more about the Sponsored Walk itself, please see: our report Sponsored Walk for the Shewsy; a selection of some of the stunning photos taken by staff and pupils: Sponsored Walk Photo Gallery; and a wonderful video that captures the atmosphere of the day: Sponsored Walk Timelapse Video.

Thursday 23 February 2017

  • International pianist Peter Donohoe performs at Shrewsbury School
    Such is the standing that Shrewsbury School has within the professional music world, we are regularly able to attract some of the leading professional ensembles and soloists to perform at the School as part of our annual Music and Arts Programme, which this year celebrates its 60th Season. On 3rd February, we were delighted to welcome back Peter Donohoe CBE, who is internationally acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time.

    Piano maestro Peter Donohoe treated Shrewsbury to a masterclass in the craftsmanship at the heart of the Romantic repertoire - Chopin, Schubert and Schumann, via the beguiling Scriabin, whose luxuriant harmonic sonorities hid flashes of that Russian Chopin’s captivating darkness.

    From the start, we were held in thrall by the limpid rivers of sound that Donohoe conjured at the keyboard. Donohoe nurtured the Alington’s Steinway D with swagger and elegance through Chopin’s Grande Valse Brilliante and the éclat and soul of the Polonaise-Fantasie in A-flat. The A minor and E minor waltzes delivered contrasts of more sombre, reflective colours; his sense of command and communication unimpeachable throughout.

    At the centre of the programme, Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No.3 –  prepared as part of as Donohoe’s new recording of the complete cycle for SOMM Records – offered his musicianship full voice. The opening of the Drammatico first movement was utterly arresting; the song lines of the second and third, where the return of the theme was astonishingly offset by the individualised shimmering of eddying inner voices, prepared the ground for the anguish of the Presto con fuoco finale before the soul, as Scriabin’s programme has it, plunges into the ‘abyss of the non-being’ in it sabrupt end. We had been warned during Donohoe’s touching piano-side chat, to expect something terrible in the sudden ending in the piece’s minor home key, the sort of terror we may find on the opera stage. Yet even forewarned, when it arrived, it was staggering, and we began to understand why a musician of Donohoe’s magnitude would want to re-engage with the visceral charge of this giant of the late Romantic and early Soviet era.

    The second half’s Schubert set of Impromptus Op. 142 was clearly an audience favourite. Again, the attentive craft Donohoe lavished on the inner voices gave these miniatures the conversational fizz of chamber music, ensuring folk melodies bejewelled by art remained supple and authentic and fresh. Schumann’s Fantasie in C major delivered a fitting virtuosic finale for a performance full of imagination, brilliance and truth.

    Donohoe plays the complete Scriabin sonata cycle at the Barbican in London on 23rd April. St George’s Day. Shakespeare’s birthday. On the strength of this performance, it will be reason to celebrate in itself.
    James Fraser-Andrews

  • President of the Creative Writing Society is published in a 'Successful Writers in 2016 Anthology'
    Congratulations to Charlie Johns (I LVI), President of the School's Creative Writing Society, who has been published in an adult anthology of short stories.

    His story ‘Cobblestones’ was submitted for a competition run by Black Pear Press last summer and was selected for publication in their Short Story Anthology 2016 ‘The Day of the Dead’, described as containing “the finest short story writers in the UK right now”.

    It begins...


    Michelangelo was bringing the Sonata to a close. A resounding G, followed by a more tentative C (played with the appropriate feeling and emotion), this C giving way to a powerful and triumphant E that rang around the concert hall, adding a sense of impressiveness to the beautifully painted angels on the ceiling; mouths open, wings open, arms open. Michelangelo juddered and shuddered as he hammered down these keys multiple times, now looking up at the audience who stared back at him; women in expensive, embroidered ball gowns and pins in their hair, transfixed by the heightened rhetoric of his messianic playing. Some of Michelangelo’s charcoal hair came untucked from where it had previously been neatly positioned behind his ear, and dangled loosely. Other locks stuck to his damp forehead. He now began his signature flourish, moving his fingers expertly over the correct keys with a beautiful fluency, and the melody which flowed from the piano was pure. Michelangelo felt his heart soar as he imparted his unique gift to the crowd, just as it had on the night of his first concert. The delicate tones coming from his fingers had that magical quality such that it both relaxed and excited the seated members in front of him. He played his last note and remained motionless as the enraptured crowd brought their hands together in wonder at this piece de resistance, and the curtain was brought down.  Michelangelo disappeared from view, all that was left was the memory of his spiritual music. Although he knew the moment could never be repeated, he took comfort from the fact that he’d be creating more history the following night.

    The anthology can be ordered from Black Pear Press via the following link: https://blackpear.net/2016/12/15/successful-writers-in-2016-anthology/ and is also in the School Library.

    The Creative Writing Society have been spending this term exploring written responses to extreme settings (most notably the landscapes, both emotional and literal, of the First World War). Braving the elements and "the wind through woods in riot" on Wenlock Edge, they embarked on a Field Day that was devoted to ‘The Edge’. This is the theme of this year’s edition of ‘Fire Engine’, the anthology of new Salopian writing, which will be published in the summer.

    Led by Mr Fraser-Andrews, they communed with the spirit of the poet A.E. Housman on Wenlock Edge and recited into Major’s Leap his poem ‘On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble…’, amid flurries of snow that were “icy” but not, mercifully, “thick”.

    Over teas and coffees and sweets, they explored the interactions of personal memory, history and fiction during an informal workshop at Much Wenlock Books, proper bookshop and nerve-centre for the acclaimed Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

Friday 10 February 2017

  • Bertold Brecht's ‘A Respectable Wedding’ - a review
    Severn Hill launch the new House Play season.

    Tackling Brecht is a weighty task at the best of times, and so Severn Hill’s offering of ‘A Respectable Wedding’ was a brave one. 

    Director Ben Higgins, ably assisted by Ed Plaut, kicked off the House play season with real gusto, with a witty and interesting take on a play that is reliant on witty repartee.  We were quickly involved in the wedding breakfast of the bride and groom, deftly played by Ella Davies-Jones and Angus Moore.  Instantly, we were given the idea that the two were not the model picture of married bliss, two hours in to the rest of their lives.  Their tension was palpable throughout the performance, until the final and honest reconciliation at the climax.

    As with any wedding, hilarity ensued with the rival for the bride’s affection, whom Max Morris endowed with a sense of one-upmanship and putdowns that drew inspirations from the greatest of rivalries – the Inbetweeners.  The bride’s bombastic father wants to hold court and dominate conversation, which Seb Hervas-Jones managed to develop as the play went on.  Esther McLaughlin was his counterfoil as the groom’s mother, adding a frisson of a ‘will they, won’t they’ to proceedings; the rest was left to our imagination. 

    Not left to our imagination was the blossoming relationship of the bride’s brother, played in sardonic style by Ben Oswald, and Jasper Mitchell as the porter’s son, whose inclusion on the guest list leaves us guessing until a fateful scene half way through the play. 

    Ending the table plan was Cameron Bates, who brought a Captain Haddock quality to his drunken putdowns and sartorial elegance, though I had never known Tintin’s companion was so musical. 

    His long-suffering spouse, played with alacritous zeal by Sebastian Ingram, brought the house down with barbed invective launched at anyone who got in his way.

    Severn Hill have lain down the gauntlet to Rigg’s and Churchill’s, though they can be justly proud of a completely pupil-led production.

    TPP

Thursday 9 February 2017

  • Follow Shrewsbury School on Twitter!
    If you are on Twitter, please follow us @ShrewsSchool for daily tweets of School news, events and photos. There are also now almost 20 other School Twitter accounts covering academic, sports and co-curricular activities that you may be interested in following.
    Shrewsbury School @ShrewsSchool
    Shrewsbury Music & Arts Events @ShrewsEvents
    Salopian Club @SalopianClubOff
    Sport @ShrewsburySport
    The Boat Club (RSSBC) @RSSBC
    Cricket @shrschcricket
    Football
    @ShrewsSchFooty
    The Hunt (RSSH) @RSSH
    Sport Science @ShrewsSchSS
    Shrewsbury Activities (Thursday afternoons,
    DofE, Rovers & other co-curricular activities)
    @shrewsactivity
    Design & Technology Dept @DTShrewsbury
    Biology Dept @ShrewsburyBiol
    Geography Dept @shrewsbury_geog
    German Dept @ShrewsGerman
    Moser Library @MoserLibrary
    Careers Dept @CareersShrews
    Maurice Walters - Deputy Head (Academic) @DhaMhw
    Anna Peak - Deputy Head (Pastoral) @ShrewsburyDHP
    Peter Middleton - Deputy Head (Co-curricular) @ShrewsburyDHCC

    The Art Department regularly posts images on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shrewsbury_art/

  • Confirmation Retreat
    Just before the last Coach Weekend, 43 pupils who are preparing to be confirmed next term and four members of staff stayed at the delightful Cefn Lea Conference Centre from Thursday evening to Saturday lunchtime.

    The facilities in this remote converted farmland, six miles out of Newtown, proved to be a wonderful resource.

    The speaker, ‘Rev K’ Owen, leading four interactive teaching sessions, engaged with all the pupils superbly and quickly won the Confirmands’ respect. In addition, pupils were introduced to some early morning Reflection times by Dr Elliot, there was a staff-led Any Questions Forum and on the Friday evening, after a themed candlelit banquet and some lively games, Rev A led a thoughtful candlelit Meditation to which pupils could respond using their own candle placed somewhere near a lit Icthus (Fish) symbol on the ground.

    The final act of the weekend came in the form of a Do-It-Yourself service for which all 43 pupils were responsible. It was most moving to hear some of their contributions, with mini speeches prepared by Angus Moore (S UVI) and Arthur Bramwell (R III) and some excellent readings, prayers and poetry, a drama and rapturous singing, led by Mr Lucas on keyboards. 

    This was a new initiative at Shrewsbury and something all agreed to have been hugely beneficial to their formation of their beliefs as Confirmation candidates before they formalise their commitment next term.
    Revd Aldous (Chaplain)


  • ShrewsMUN... a month to go! - by Ed Plaut (S UVI)
    On 4th March 2017, over 120 pupils from ten different schools from across the UK and Europe will descend upon Shrewsbury School for a weekend of debating and building diplomatic ties (both real and imagined) at Shrewsbury’s first ever Model United Nations Conference, affectionately dubbed ShrewsMUN. 

    However, although the event itself will be taking place in March 2017, its origins actually lie in an idea that I conceived with a friend of mine, Max Morris, while we were in the Lower Sixth in December 2015. We had both been to MUN conferences in Paris and London over that winter and thought if such metropolises could hold a conference, then so could Shrewsbury. Together, we pitched our idea to our ever-supportive and ever-patient Master in Charge of MUN, Mr Peach, who said that he would happily support our idea. And so ShrewsMUN was born (at least, on paper).

    After being granted permission by the School, Max and I sat down and began to plan our conference…

    While trying to study for our AS level exams, we started to make our first tentative steps into the world of conference organising. As two 16-year-olds, we had little idea where to start with such a task!

    We decided that it was pointless to have a conference without people, and so we started to reach out to schools around the UK and Europe that we had a rapport with to try and make them aware of the conference and carefully cajole them to come. Over another bout of MUN conferences in Manchester and London during 2016, the charm offensive continued. Eventually, we sent off our invites to schools from far and wide (at about the same time we were sending our university applications off…).

    Once we had schools signed up, the attention turned to each individual detail. Max and the rest of the top team of Michael Schutzer-Weissman, James Whitaker and Seb Hervas-Jones and I quickly realised that there’s a lot more to a conference than getting a lot of people to turn up in one place at once! We had to select our chair people for the conference and get together Salopians who were willing to give up a weekend to come and help host the conference, as well as staff. On top of that, there have been flags to buy, badges to make, dietary requirements to note down, committees to organise, nations to allocate and catering to be organised!

    On top of all of this, we’ve been balancing A Level studies, a House Play (featuring in some capacity four of the five ShrewsMUN Executive Team) and sporting commitments. It really has been a busy journey that shows little sign of slowing down as we enter the final month of preparations.

    We all hope that all the hours spent poring over databases and emails will result in a great first conference that could one day become a regular feature of the Shrewsbury calendar, and maybe even nurture some of the leaders of the future! However, our collective inputs probably pale into insignificance by contrast with those of Mr Peach, who continues to make a gargantuan effort in the conference organisation alongside all his duties as a dedicated Head of German. The conference would still be a pipe dream without him!

    We look forward to welcoming all delegates, guests and visitors in March for what should be a great weekend.
    Ed Plaut (S UVI)

    Details of the conference, including the topics each committee will be debating, may be found by following the link: ShrewsMUN 1

Friday 3 February 2017

  • 'Mr Darwin's Tree'
    An account by Charlie Johns (I LVI) of a riveting performance of the one-man show Mr Darwin's Tree'. Originally written to coincide with the bicentenary of Darwin's birth, it has since toured England and the United States to critical acclaim. On Sunday, it 'came home' to Shrewsbury, the town of Darwin's birth, and to his alma mater, Shrewsbury School. 

    On Sunday 29th January, 250 members of the Sixth Form piled into the Ashton Theatre to watch the production of ‘Mr Darwin’s Tree’, written and directed by Murray Watts, with the solitary actor being Andrew Harrison.

    A seemingly last-minute but well received change of plan had led them to be in the Ashton Theatre instead of the usual evening chapel. Shockingly, some Sixth Formers were skeptical; others were keen and unbiased, open to having their preconceptions about one-man theatre obliterated by the hammer of dramatic performance. I would put myself in this camp.

    Mr Middleton, Deputy Head (Co-Curricular), descended the stairs onto the stage and stood blinking in the spotlight like a TV host. He told us of the critical acclaim that the play had received. I surveyed the packed arena and wondered if these critics would be doing similar acclaiming, or would be baying for blood like in the Colosseum. Actually, everyone was being quiet and well-behaved, obviously tired after the exhausting exertions that come hand in hand with a Sunday at Shrewsbury School.

    There was a great deal of intrigue about the stage set-up, and rightly so. To stage left was a lone chair, and centre stage was a bizarre construction, which consisted of a step ladder, from which wooden branches made of what looked like metre rulers, protruded. It bemused me at the time, but upon further rumination and reflection I’ve decided that it might be some conceptual reference to the tree of life which Darwin devised during his interesting and enduring life. Below that were a round table and two chairs, where Harrison enacted Darwin’s frantic writing scenes and also the deeply poignant deathbed sequences. A nice minimalist and portable set, I thought.

    But what of the actual acting?

    It’s astonishing how one man can hold the attention of 250 tired young men and women for upwards of an hour. As Mr Middleton perceptively put it in his summarising evening email, “There were moments when you could hear a pin drop”. Too right there were.

    There was writing from Watts that would not have looked out of place in a high-ranking poetry book. Harrison’s intonation, had this been delivered in French, would have gained him a distinction grade in a Pre-U oral exam. He rolled his ‘r’s with precision, and glided gracefully over some of the more tranquil narrations. At times he spoke rapidly and heatedly, at others he faltered and feigned, his voice quivered with emotion. This guy was able to portray Darwin as a squeamish university student, a young, shy, seasick yet passionate expeditionary aboard HMS Beagle, his traditional and domineering, yet benevolent father, and even his dying ten-year old daughter Annie. Mesmerising. I now feel like I’ve got a tangible grasp of the personalities of all these characters, despite having had no prior knowledge of them.

    The play challenges many preconceptions about Darwin and his legacy and the supposed conflict between faith and science. Along with the dramatic story of Darwin’s own life, struggles and scientific quest, there are the powerful themes of his wife Emma’s Christian faith and their poignant conflict on issues of belief in an otherwise perfect marriage, and the personal tragedies and joys of their journey through life together. As a philosophy student, I found it very engaging, and the ideas were discussed in a way that was very accessible, even to those who were new to the ideas being raised.

    I attempted to gauge the reception in the immediate aftermath, in Ingram’s Hall, a building that fills me with joy to be able to call home. One friend of mine said, “Yeah that was a really good!” I’d never seen such an outburst of passion, derived from a dramatic stimulus, from him before. We even had a brief debate in the Link about exactly what it was about it which was so enjoyable. The air in Ingram’s was positively thick with erudite debate; unanticipated.

    This was a very powerful piece of theatre. I have to say, my prejudice that one-man shows are naff and a bit boring was dismantled, destroyed and shattered in one hour. I’m sure this was true for all others present.

Thursday 2 February 2017

  • Hot debate at Shrewsbury School
    It has been a hectic week for the Shrewsbury Debaters, not only within the School but on a national platform too.

    Last week on Thursday two teams represented the School at the Oxford Union Schools' Competition in the regional round. Peter Stanley (SH UVI) and Alec Barnes (PH UVI) made it through to the Final in Oxford on Saturday 11th March as one of eight teams from a competitive field of 54.

    That same day the Junior House Debating Competition started with a great round on whether the NHS is doomed.

    On Sunday, a talented Lower Sixth team of Angus Moore (S LVI) and Sam Bayliss (Rt LVI) competed in the regional round of the Cambridge Union Schools' Competition and acquired valuable experience for competing next year.

    On Monday, our debating veterans Ed Plaut (S UVI) and James Whitaker (Rt UVI) (pictured above) debated on the issue of all-women's shortlists to redress parliamentary imbalance, in the English Speaking Union Competition. The audience enjoyed their way of combating gender inequality and I was proud to see them speak so compellingly on the need to empower women. A great last debate, as they unfortunately did not make it to the next round of this highly competitive competition.
    Sonya Milanova

Wednesday 1 February 2017

  • Woodwind Prizes
    The annual Woodwind Prizes were held on Sunday 29th January, with nearly 50 performers participating in a terrific day that was adjudicated by Katherine Baker, Principal Flute of the Hallé Orchestra.

    With such large numbers performing, the event was rather epic in proportion but demonstrated the sheer talent of the woodwind musicians at the School.

    The Junior Class was for students working up to Grade 6, the Intermediate for Grades 6-8, and the Senior for anyone working at Diploma level.

    Katherine thought the overall standard was fantastic and was delighted to give a performance herself at the end of the Senior Class in the beautiful acoustic of the Maidment Auditorium.

    Junior Class
    1st – Jeffrey Li
    Highly Commended – Francesca Harris
    Commended – Gordon Chong
    Special Mention – George Clowes & Josie Williams

    Intermediate class
    1st – Oliver Toms
    Highly commended – Phoebe Morris (Sax)
    Commended – Joe Thevathasan
    4th – Harriet Adams
    Special Mention – James Snell & Rueben Denison

    Senior class
    1st – Orla McCormack
    Highly commended – William Bedson
    Commended – Sophia Price
    4th – Jemima Price
    Special Mention - Jonty Gould & Ella Johnson (Sax)

    Maria McKenzie, Head of Woodwind

  • 'Baptism of Fire' - Shrewsbury School commemorates Wilfred Owen
    An article by Sam Bayliss (Rt LVI), submitted for publication in the Shropshire Star, describing a joint Shrewsbury School and Friends of St Chad's commemoration of Wilfred Owen, which took place last weekend.

    The life and work of Wilfred Owen, Shropshire’s most famous poet, was celebrated with a day of activities on Saturday 28th January, one hundred years after his arrival on the Western Front in January 1917. Sam Bayliss writes.

    The day, organised by James Fraser-Andrews of Shrewsbury School’s English Faculty to raise funds for St Chad’s Church, remembered the household name who not only pioneered war poetry as we know it today, but changed people’s views of war.

    Helen McPhail, former chairman of the Wilfred Owen Association, led a tour that followed in Owen’s footsteps, as they were guided around the town. The church then played host to world authorities on the writer with three lectures in St Chad’s Church in the afternoon.

    Speakers included Dr Guy Cuthbertson, Owen’s most recent biographer, Dr Martin Deahl, ex-army consultant psychiatrist and Iraq veteran, and Dr Adrian Barlow, formerly of University of Cambridge. Insights into Owen’s life, explorations of ‘shell-shock’, and Owen’s cultural impact on later writers proved fascinating subjects to the 200-strong audience.

    The day concluded with an evening recital of words and music, devised by James Fraser-Andrews. Led by Director of Music John Moore and Head of Woodwind Maria McKenzie, musicians from Shrewsbury School performed music from the period and beyond – including a world-premiere of a new setting of Owen’s poem ‘The Letter’ by student Dan Powell (Ch UVI). Readings included Owen’s best-loved poems, letters home, and brand-new writing from the School’s Creative Writing Society.

    The day was a fitting tribute to the poet who revolutionised war poetry after his first experiences of the Western Front in 1917, and who would tragically lose his life only seven days before the signing of the Armistice, on 4th November 1918.

    “The pupils performed with great sensitivity for the kinds of art - by Owen and others - that civilises, dignifies or, at the very least, lays bare the contortions of the soul in times of such terrible violence,” said Mr Fraser-Andrews.

    The Friends of St Chad’s were pleased to raise £1700 throughout the day, which will help maintain the unique church in Owen’s home town.   The event was a precursor to the major centenary commemorations of Owen’s death that are due to take place next year.

    Editor's note: As Sam Bayliss was himself part of the group of Shrewsbury School pupils who took part in the concert, he is perhaps a little reticent in stating just how warmly received their contributions were. The Headmaster received the following email after the concert from parents who were part of the audience. It was entitled 'Shrewsbury School at its best':

    "The evening recital of poems and music at St Chad’s last Saturday evening to mark the 100th anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s move to the Western Front was quite brilliant; magnificent musicianship and singing accompanying readings that inspired and moved in equal measure. Owen’s baton moves on to a new and worthy generation.

    Congratulations to every last participant and to Mr Fraser-Andrews, Mr Moore and Mrs McKenzie for helping to make it all happen."

Friday 27 January 2017

  • 'Floreat' Awards
    This term has seen a new award at Shrewsbury School: Floreat.  Shrewsbury is full of success stories and headline-grabbing highlights, but there are also many examples of Salopians quietly doing extraordinary things.  Floreat seeks to shine the spotlight for a brief moment on those whose efforts might otherwise go unnoticed. 

    Based on the principle that a word of encouragement can have a significant impact on an individual, the intention is to celebrate and commend both curricular and co-curricular success stories in order that pupils may be encouraged on their Salopian journey and further flourish.  The intention is to promote an ‘I Can’ approach amongst Salopians, to applaud effort rather than just attainment, and to encourage pupils to be confident in their abilities and ambitions. 

    Floreat is hosted by the Headmaster and members of the Senior Academic Staff every Friday following nominations from the Common Room and the pupil body. Those nominated this term include bee-keepers, Classicists, charity fundraisers, hockey goal-keepers, drummers, poets and Arabists.  All have impressed and inspired with their qualities of determination, resilience, fortitude and, in many cases, the courage to step out of their comfort zone.

    PJM

     

     

Thursday 26 January 2017

  • Sponsored Walk - view from a glider
    Back in the warm days of September, one of our pupils piloted a glider and filmed (with a head cam) walkers trudging up the Long Mynd in the early part of the Whole School Sponsored Walk.

    Tom Brennan (LVI I) gained his pilot's wings via his membership of the CCF (RAF) section and flew a glider kindly loaned by the Midland Gliding School.

    This short clip was taken as he flew southwards along the Long Mynd escarpment at less than 80 feet in places. Tom then landed and journeyed on to complete the walk on foot. He had certainly earned his ice cream at the end!

    Please click on the image below to view the film on the Shrewsbury School TV YouTube channel:

Friday 13 January 2017

  • Fourth and Fifth Form Art Exhibition

    Please click on the image below to open a gallery of pictures that are part of the Fourth and Fifth Form Art Exhibition, currently on display in the Art School.

    The exhibition continues until Friday 20th January.

    The Art Department is now on Instagram. Do please follow them at: https://www.instagram.com/shrewsbury_art/

  • Prep Schools' Musical Theatre Day
    Following the success of last year’s inaugural Prep Schools' Musical Theatre Day, 75 excited Year 7 pupils descended on Shrewsbury School for another exhilarating day of singing, dancing and acting.

    This year, our theme was ‘A Bit More Moore’, celebrating the oeuvres of our Director of Music, John Moore.

    John has been writing award-winning musicals for Salopian casts for 20 years, including last year’s production of Great Expectations which won 5* reviews at the Edinburgh Festival in the summer. Many of the cast were available to help out and mentor our young guests, as they all learned numbers from past shows including Jekyll!, The Bubble and The Lost Domain.

    The senior students also gave a wonderful lunchtime concert in which they sang some of their favourite songs from the shows. Particular highlights were Phoebe Morris’ glorious rendition of On my own and Angus Kincaid’s velvety version of Ole Man River.

    The day ended with all of our visitors and helpers – as well as their parents and teachers – joining in a rousing sing-along, complete with waving glowsticks. It was a hugely enjoyable day for all involved, as this lovely thank you message from one of the prep schools shows:

    "Thank you all for another splendid, inspirational Musical Theatre day last Friday. It is definitely the thing to dispel the January blues! The children had a great day and were full of it on the way home. Very many thanks to you all and to your delightful, humble pupils, who shared their time, energy and expertise with such grace."

    Helen Brown, Director of Drama

Friday 6 January 2017

  • School Firsts
    Awarded to pupils during the final School Assembly of the Michaelmas Term.

    Each term a committee of Sixth Form pupils meets to award the School’s highest form of ‘colours’ – a ‘School First’. The committee members take their work seriously, for two main reasons: firstly, this is a good example of pupil power – while teachers may make nominations, it is only those ten or so Upper Sixth pupils sitting on the committee who have the power to vote; secondly, to retain the value of the ‘School First’, precious few are handed out.

    Nowadays School Firsts have been split into two types: sporting and non-sporting. Below is a list of those pupils who were given the coveted award for their exceptional contributions to School life in non-sporting activities.

    For their exceptional contributions to the musical life of the School:
    Angus Kincaid (Ch UVI), Marvin Hui (M UVI), Josh Himsworth (Ch UVI), Ben Higgins (S UVI), Steffan Williams ( UVI) and Arthur Yu (SH UVI)

    For their exceptional contributions in School and House drama:
    Robin Huber (G LVI) and Toby Pattinson (Ch V)

    For his outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the School through the Creative Writing Society:  
    Charlie Johns (I LVI)

Sunday 1 January 2017

  • News will be published here shortly for 2017
    In the meantime, please follow the link (above right) to our 2016 news.