“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence in between.”
- Michael Harrison - (Head of Department)
- Geraldine Cochrane - Full-Time Music Teacher
|Vivienne Mulcahy||John Gillen|
Music Department Activities 2014/15
|Monday||8.10am - 9am||
|3.20pm - 4.30pm||
|Tuesday||Lunch 3.20pm - 4.30pm||
|Wednesday||8.15am - 9am||
Junior African Drum Group
|Lunch||Senior African Drum Group|
|3.20pm - 4.30pm||
Barbershop Singing Group
|Thursday||8.20am - 9am||Barbershop Singing Group|
|3.20pm - 4.30pm||Senior Choir|
|Friday||8.20am - 9am||
Senior Chamber Ensemble
Music Ensembles and Membership Numbers - 2014/2015
|Senior Chamber Ensemble||32|
|Senior Traditional Group||6|
|Junior Traditional Group||10|
|Senior African Drum Group||10|
Annual Concert 2017
Ulster Hall – Sunday 12th March
On the afternoon of Sunday 12th March the girls assembled at the Ulster Hall in Belfast once again for their Annual Concert, an extravaganza of instrumental and vocal music involving nearly 400 participants performing to a packed house in a host of styles and ensembles.
The programme got off to an atmospheric start with a performance of Saint-Saens’ ‘Danse Macabre’’ by the 50-strong Senior Orchestra, conducted by the Head of Music, followed by an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s ballet music for ‘Romeo & Juliet’.
This opener was followed by two junior groups, starting with the Junior Choir who gave an atmospheric rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Miserables. The singers were followed by the ‘Junior Chamber Ensemble’, a string orchestra of over 40 students from Years 8-10 who performed a selection from the music for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides’ followed by Schubert’s music for ‘Rosamunde’ in which they were joined by a supplementary group of woodwind and brass players.
A place in the award-winning Barbershop Group is one of the more coveted positions for singers in Assumption and this ensemble was represented by two arrangements by the group’s director, Nuala Murray – ‘Africa’, the 1982 song by Toto and the Jackson’s ‘Blame It On The Boogie’.
Following this, a group of senior students performed a highly accomplished set of traditional Irish pieces including an ‘Irish’ version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’. They were joined in their final item by the school’s group of Irish dancers. The first half was then brought to a close by the full Senior Choir with a set that included Kern & Hammerstein’s ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man Of Mine’, the haunting ‘Seal Lullabye’ and a quirky performance of ‘Mr. Sandman’.
The second half was introduced by the intoxicating rhythms of the African Drummers before the continuing popularity of jazz in the school was demonstrated with performances of ‘Good Times’, ‘Feelin’ Good’ with solo singer Katy Keaveney and finally, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’.
The Chamber Choir, a smaller vocal group specializing in sacred music, performed ‘A Song of Love’ a setting of words by Lewis Carroll and a magical arrangement of the African-American song ‘Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) in an arrangement by Belfast composer Philip Stopford. This was followed by the Senior Chamber Ensemble’s performance of Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ and the ‘Theme from Schindler’s List’ with soloists Cora Timoney and Orla McGarrity.
The stage was then set for the finale in which a choir of 230 girls from Years 8 and 9 sang three songs by Michael Jackson – ‘Can You Feel It’, ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’ and the spectacular ‘Thriller’ in which the choir and orchestra were accompanied by a group of dancers from Year 9 with choreography developed by girls from the school.
Music is studied throughout the school from Yr 8 to 14. At KS3 students develop their musical skills through a wide variety of activities incorporating listening, performing, composing and appraising. In Yr 11 students may opt for Music as a GCSE subject including a 'Fast Track' course which runs before school to facilitate timetable options and following this they may continue their studies at AS and A2 level.
In addition, students may decide to take up a musical instrument and to cater for this we have a large and growing peripatetic staff who provide individual and group tuition in voice, strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, piano and aural training. Students are prepared for graded examinations through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in both practical and theory. They may also take exams in Traditional Music through the London College of Music and Drums through the ‘Rockschool’ system.
The Music Department puts great emphasis on extra-curricular activities and students are encouraged to take part in these. There is an enormous variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles ranging from larger groups to smaller ad hoc ensembles. These are all listed above.
Each year the department undertakes a full and challenging programme of recitals and concerts as well as performances at parents’ evenings, open nights and liturgical functions. The major event in our calendar is the Annual Concert which, this year will take place in the Ulster hall. This allows all of our young performers an outstanding opportunity to perform in a prestigious setting to an audience of nearly two thousand people. You can see one of our recent concerts illustrated above.
Our musicians also contribute regularly to many community and charity events and have broadcast on television and radio, both locally and abroad. Our most recent project, in conjunction with the Drama department, was 'Fiddler on the Roof'. This is a major production with singers and musicians drawn exclusively from the student body. Casting is done in June, rehersals begin promptly in September and the show is staged over four nights in school during the final week of October.
In 2009 we were delighted to hear that we had been successful in being awarded status as a ‘Specialist School’ in Music with PE as a Subsidiary subject, one of only two schools to achieve this distinction. This has been beneficial to the department both practically and academically, allowing us to expand our activities considerably and to set a range of challenging targets in the areas of academic achievement, uptake and community involvement. In February 2010, visiting inspectors from the Department of Education gave the department an excellent rating.
In September 2010 we moved into our new Music block which you can see below. This magnificent suite of rooms comprises:
- 3 classrooms
- 1 Music Technology room
- 1 Recording Studio
- 2 Ensemble rooms
- 6 Peripatetic/Group rooms
- 1 Staff Room
The block also includes an Instrument Store, toilet facilities and is built around the refurbished Gym which serves as a large venue for rehearsals and performances.
The classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, 10 PCs for student use which have Sibelius 6 Music software installed. The Music Technology room has 10 keyboards for use in conjunction with ipads and the Recording Studio houses 2 mixing desks and all the additional equipment required for the high-quality recording of pupils’ compositions and performances.