Afternoon concerts for local schools

If you would like your school to be part of our highly successful afternoon schools concert initiative, please encourage your Head of Music to contact Alison Burnett – email:

On Friday afternoon 16th October, there was almost a tangible air of expectancy as 72 students, drawn from Coombeshead College (Newton Abbot) Dawlish Community College, Stover
 School (Newton Abbot), St John’s School
(Sidmouth) St Peter’s School (Lympstone), &
 The Park School (Barnstaple) gathered in 
the James Wyatt Music Room of
 Powderham Castle for a performance
 by New Generation Artist Rosie
 Bowker, a flautist only a few years 
older than themselves.

Professor Pratt and I knew of her only by reputation and recommendation – she’s on the Post-Graduate Orchestral course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Rosie, in turn knew nothing of  Music in the Castle’ beyond having, she admitted, looked us up on the web! In the event, the match of flautist to the Divertimento String Quartet and George Pratt (continuo) proved absolutely ideal.

Rosie Bowker - Flute

Rosie Bowker – Flute

Rosie is a fine player, already highly accomplished technically, and with sound musical ideas which she communicated to the ‘Old Generation Artists!’ with charm and modesty.

IMG_6259A tough programme had been devised: excerpts from one of Vivaldi’s most fantastical concertos, ‘The Storm at Sea’ and ‘The Night’, together with a piccolo concerto which is known and feared by candidates for audition. Rosie not only played it immaculately but tamed its potential screech, making it sound beautiful within the chamber- scaled acoustic of the James Wyatt
 Music Room.

Rosie demonstrated a professionally invaluable versatility by playing a Handel sonata on the baroque flute, creating an exceptionally warm and even tone. Everyone profoundly enjoyed playing excerpts from the Bach Flute Suite. The final Badinerie, famous as a dazzling trifle, captivated everyone in the Music Room.

Ken Parr (Head of Devon LDP Music Service) and Lady Kay Norrington also greatly enjoyed the afternoon concert.

If you and your students were unable to attend, you missed a stunning concert. However, don’t take my word for it, read the following comments from your colleagues and their pupils who were able to attend.

IMG_996710 GCSE music students had an opportunity to and and listed to quality classical music at Powderham Castle, near Exeter. On arrival, students were immediately impressed with the incredible setting of The James Wyatt Music Rom and thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rosie Bowker’s concert.
The concert was presented well, with an interesting insight into the works being performed and the different instruments being played, given by Professor George Pratt.

As part of their course, students are required to learn about music of the Baroque period, and what better way than to listen to a live performance. My students will follow up this concert with work in the classroom directly related to the classical works performed.

IMG_9934It was great for my students to watch Rosie, a young performer and excellent role model, not much older than them and who no doubt, will be an inspiration to aspiring young musicians at The Park School.
On the return journey to Barnstaple, I overheard comments such as: ‘She is amazing, I really enjoyed the concert’. ‘It was good to hear stories of how composers lived and worked.’ , I had never heard the different types of flute before.  Matthew Street, The Park School, Barnstaple

The aim of our visit was for my year 11 GCSE music group to experience a style of music which isn’t always accessible to them. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were taken aback by the style and technique demonstrated by the performers.
They were treated to an hour performance followed by a question & answer session with Rosie Bowker and Professor Pratt, where my pupils asked some interesting and incisive questions.
‘Learning the historical context, as well as listening to the music, helped to develop my musical knowledge.’ ‘It was really interesting to hear a new style of music I was not familiar with’. ‘ The techniques used by the performers on their instruments were unbelievable and the sound was incredible!,.IMG_9918
Andrew Tyner, Coombeshead College, Newton Abbot

Thank you for last Friday.
My pupils were impressed with the dexterity required to play the flute. They were also impressed with the sound that was made, the real sound of real instruments in a live concert.
They were really impressed with the amount of practice that Rosie did, and I have had many conversations since, about how they would structure a four hour practice session, warming up with scales etc before moving on to pieces of music.  Jonathan Tizard, Stover School, Newton Abbott

Out of my eight pupils, it was the first classical concert ever for seven of them – can you believe it? And one of those pupils is grade 6 in 3 disciplines. So a really big day for all of them.IMG_9897
Chris Hoban St Peter’s Prep School, Lympstone

We were greeted with the lovely staff that helped us find where we parked, and what I saw hadn’t been in my mind. Tall stone steps leading upwards, up to beautiful gardens and forwards, 
and, just after that, the powerful building,powerful and extremely unyielding.

 Ivy grew freely up the wall,
then up some metal steps – which made me think I might fall! We entered a room full of breathtaking beauty,
and heard music played by all (also known as “tutti”!). The violins, viola, cello and pianist, and, of course… the fantastic flautist!

We took our seats and couldn’t help but admire, the beautiful dome lit up with fire,
radiating out of stunningly bright lamps. And every other school filed in, in their camps,
The pianist introduced, the music began to play,
it was truly an experience that was a very special day!
Jessica Kealy – Year 6, St Peter’s Prep School, LympstoneIMG_9916

P Pupils from St Peters and other schools gathered in the beautiful James Wyatt Music Room in stunning Powderham Castle.
O Outside the sun was shining and autumn colours were gliding through the trees
W Warming up their instruments, the 6 musicians looked excited to play for us.
D Divertimento Quartet- Violin (2), Viola and Cello
E Everyone was transfixed .
R Rosie Bowker flute, baroque flute and piccolo (is it really a squeaking twig?)
H Harpsichord, with its beautiful twang
A Antonio Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Telemann amazing music composers of their age
M Music in the castle was inspiring, thank you for the opportunity.
Rowan Welch. St Peter’s Prep School, LympstoneIMG_9983

On Friday May 8th local schools were invited to attend our latest “New Generation Artists” afternoon concert in The James Wyatt Music Room.

Joo Yeon and Kumi Matsuo were received with gIMG_0418reat enthusiasm, the audience bowled over by their virtuosity and exceptional skill as communicators. They included a demonstration of the less familiar potential of the violin including some Bach, first unaccompanied and then with added piano accompaniment from Mendelssohn.
The closing Question & Answer session fascinated the audience with some frank explanations of the tough life of an aspiring professional musician.

Following are observations from two Directors of Music who brought groups from their schools/colleges:

Angela Blackwell - Director of Music, The Maynard School.

Angela Blackwell – Director of Music, The Maynard School.

Thank you very much for a truly memorable afternoon. By giving my young musicians a chance to hear the finest music performed by first class musicians in such a beautiful room you have created a lasting impression and inspired them, I know, to continue with their own music-making. It really was a terrific recital and the introductions helped set the music in context. The opportunity to talk to the performers and ask them questions was also immensely beneficial and gave my pupils a clearer insight into the life of a musician.
Thank you again to everyone involved for making us so welcome and I shall do my best to sing the praises of  ‘Music in the Castle’ to everyone!
Ad hoc comments made by students from The Maynard School on their return journey to Exeter.IMG_0399

‘I got tired just watching Joo Yeon’
‘She was playing four notes while I struggle with one.’

‘The violinist produced a really beautiful sound.’ ‘Phenomenal.’

‘No words! You just can’t describe it.’
‘We were all blown away by the music and our hair was standing on end. I got goosebumps.’

I closed my eyes and could feel the emotion.’
‘You could get lost in the music.’
IMG_0412Students from Dawlish Community College have attended every afternoon concert for schools at Powderham Castle this year, and last Friday’s event was indeed a highlight of the Season.
The setting of Powderham Castle itself – let alone having access to the beautiful James Wyatt Music Room – only added to the ambience of this occasion.
Music we listened to certainly matched the venue. The virtuosic violin playing of Joo Yeon Sir captivated our Dawlish Students with the dexterity of her left hand and the musicality of her phrasing.
IMG_0438Many of the students play, or are beginning to play Piano, so these students sat so they could watch the sensitive and at times virtuosic playing of Joo’s accompanist, Kumi Matsuo. The highlight for me was the Bach, closely followed the Fantasie by Waxman based on themes from Bizet’s Opera, Carmen.
Introductions to each piece given by Professor Pratt gave my students a greater understanding of the pieces being performed. It also gave them something to ‘pin’ their listening to as the themes and techniques are explained beforehand.
I would thoroughly recommend that students and lovers of music of any age should have the opportunity to listen and understand music in such a grand setting.
We are already looking forward to the next year’s programme!”IMG_0422

D_Graydon_03062015_00028On the afternoon of Friday 6th March,
The Artesian Quartet were received enthusiastically by local schools.

Chris Carter – Head of Music at Honiton Community College

A sixty minute concert in the beautiful James Wyatt Music Room at Powderham Castle on March 6th given by the Artesian String Quartet, was a delightful and vital experience for twenty-one students we were able to bring from Honiton Community College.

The setting, the acoustics, the choice of repertoire, the informative linking contribution, the opportunity to quiz instrumentalists at the end – it was a most enjoyable way to end the week.

More significantly, this was the first time the majority of Honiton Community College students had heard chamber music live. They were given a useful steer by Professor Pratt, who helped the audience with concise and pertinent details about landmarks they were about to hear, including a hands-on appreciation of the contrast between simple and compound time signatures.

My students were gripped and excited by explosive dance rhythms and dissonances of the Bartok quartet, so much so they voted for it as being their overwhelming favourite of the afternoon. This was testimony to the impact the music had on them.

Here are some of their responses:
“When the musicians started playing, my mind was blown away…” “Beautiful music and great experience…”

“I couldn’t believe the sound coming from just four instruments…” “When we left everybody was saying what a good time they had…”
I look forward to possible future opportunities to experience ‘Music in the Castle’.

Ollie Hickman Head of Music at Sidmouth College

D_Graydon_03062015_00031   On Friday 6th March, a group of Key Stage 3 and 4    students from Sidmouth College were taken to Powderham Castle to hear the Artesian String Quartet.

The group consisted of students who already play an instrument together with those who take a strong interest in Music at College. Some of the group are drummers, and this style of music was certainly very different to what they would normally listen to.

One commented ‘It’s not what I would choose to listen to but they were really good, and it was a great experience’.

On arriving at Powderham Castle, students were given an unexpected tour of some of the rooms, including the Library and its secret doors! The students were very impressed by this also a mirror which could be moved to reveal a window above the fireplace.

The Artesian Quartet was introduced by Professor Pratt. He was both engaging and entertaining. The world of Classical Music can often be interpreted as ‘stuffy’ or ‘pompous’ but the Professor held the attention of our teenage audience. His explanations of the pieces of music were funny and appropriate for young listeners.

Particularly effective were the ‘sound bytes’
performed live to illustrate sections or areas
of the piece of music being described. Professor Pratt also made the performance interactive, teaching students about unusual timings through clapping in simple and compound time. This was more than just an experience of listening to professional musicians; it was an interactive musical experience!

My students were fortunate to hear three compositions for Quartet.
Haydn, op.20 No.6, then the more modern sounding second Quartet of Bartok. Students

really enjoyed this piece, voting it their favourite of the three pieces heard.

Finally, the Artesian Quartet performed Beethoven’s Op.18 no.6 which started off quiet, gloomy and emotional, but then became more fun.


The quality and musicianship of the quartet was remarkable. The sound produced by those four instruments was inspiring, emotional and rich. The acoustics of the James Wyatt Music Room was wonderful, and accentuated the tones of the four Artesian performers.

The students were fortunate to hear three compositions for Quartet.
Haydn, op.20 No.6, then the more modern sounding second Quartet of Bartok. Students

really enjoyed this piece, voting it their favourite of the three pieces heard.

Finally, the Artesian Quartet performed Beethoven’s Op.18 no.6 which started off quiet, gloomy and emotional, but then became more fun.

The quality and musicianship of the quartet was remarkable. The sound produced by those four instruments was inspiring, emotional and rich. The acoustics of the James Wyatt Music Room was wonderful, and accentuated the tones of the four Artesian performers. As one student pointed out ‘you could really feel the music sitting in front of the instruments’!

I have previously taken young people to see live orchestras and am always heartened by their response at how much more enjoyable classical music is to see and hear live, than on CD or YouTube.D_Graydon_03062015_00021

At the end of our time in Powderham Castle the audience was given an opportunity to ask the musicians questions. Many of the students were surprised to learn that as a professional Musician you have to practice at least six hours a day.

All in all an excellent experience and one which we hope to enjoy again.

During the afternoon of Friday 14th November 2014, five singers from the post-graduate Opera School of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama came, with an exceptionally sensitive and polished staff piano accompanist, to present a programme of Opera Highlights to 45 pupils drawn from Coombeshead Academy (Newton Abbot), Dawlish College and Trinity School (Teignmouth).

It was an outstanding success and two further concerts for schools are planned for 2015 – Friday 6th March and Friday 8th May.

Andrew TynerMusic in the Castle is a great opportunity for young people to access music which may not be readily available to them. Our location in Newton Abbot means we do not have a capacity to watch and experience a large variety of Music. The opportunity that ‘Music in the Castle’ brings, helps to bridge that gap and provides live performances for our students to develop more understanding of the standard required to be a successful musician.

It’s a privilege to watch such great performances at Powderham Castle. The grounds, setting and history behind the James Wyatt Music Room brings a sense of magic to the performances.

Andrew Tyner, Head of Music at Coombeshead Academy (Newton Abbot)

Schools children enjoying the opera at Powderham Castle

Pupils from Dawlish Community College.

“On Friday the 14th November choir members of Dawlish Community College went to Powderham Castle to watch some opera singers perform. They came onto the stage and sang – and it was amazing!

They got every note correct and they sang in different languages like English, French, Italian, German and many more – and it was fantastic!

They could pronounce every word amazing, even if it was in a different language.

They must have been putting a lot of effort into their pieces of music because it was absolutely amazing!!

I am so grateful that someone paid for us to go and see it. THANKYOU!!!! – Lucy”

Schools wishing to attend these concerts should contact Adrian Huxham on 01626 365885 or write to

Rachael Arkell

Rachael Arkell
Trinity School

On Friday 14th November 2014 I, along with a group of young people from Trinity School (Teignmouth), experienced an afternoon of Classical music given by five performers from the post-graduate Opera School of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

When we received our invitation to this prestigious occasion – in Powderham Castle’s beautiful James Wyatt Music Room – I jumped at the chance to book places for my music pupils, knowing this was going to be one of those rare opportunities to experience high quality live classical music.

My pupils were a little unsure whether or not they would enjoy this afternoon concert, however we were made to feel welcome right from the word go.

Once the concert was finished every single pupil – without fail – turned around and thanked me for letting them experience the concert, telling me how much they appreciated the music and the performers.

They particularly liked the question and answer session at the end and I personally believe this made the whole experience more accessible for the pupils.

I could instantly tell the afternoon had been a great success as everyone was singing famous opera tunes all the back to Trinity School.

Thank you for inviting us we had a wonderful time.

Rachael Arkell
Director of Music
Trinity School (Teignmouth)

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