Our aim at Benenden is to ensure that every girl learning an instrument is given the opportunity to enjoy the musical, social and intellectual benefits that come from being part of an ensemble. In order to achieve this aim we run a wide selection of groups each week with repertoire carefully chosen to be both playable and appealing to the girls.
Our three flagship groups perform regularly at high profile concerts and at functions around London and the South East. These are the Benenden Symphony Orchestra, the Senior String Orchestra and the Lime Avenue Jazz Band.
The Benenden Symphony Orchestra
The Benenden Symphony Orchestra has been running for over twenty five years and is open to young musicians from both Benenden and the surrounding areas that have reached the equivalent of Grade 7 or above. We rehearse from 5.30pm to 7.00pm between September and the early Summer Term. Our season traditionally ends with a large scale orchestral concert at Benenden’s Arts Festival in April.
Recent repertoire covered includes –
- Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine
- Arnold English Dances
- Bizet Carmen Suite
- Blake The Snowman (with accompanying film)
- Fotopoulos Sylvan Reflections*
- Haydn Symphony No 104. in D Major
- Holst Mars from The Planets
- Marquez Danzon No. 2
- Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23
- Shostakovich Jazz Suite No.2
- Vaughan–Williams The Lark Ascending
- Walton Crown Imperial
- Williams J. The Empire Strikes Back, E.T. Harry Potter, Indiana Jones (with accompanying films)
- Young The Last Standing Chateau*
* = Commissioned specifically for Benenden Symphony Orchestra.
The Senior String Orchestra
The Senior String Orchestra is formed from the members of the Benenden Symphony Orchestra. This advanced ensemble gives the girls the opportunity to tackle repertoire specifically written for bowed strings focusing in particular on the Baroque and late Romantic/Modern eras. Alongside school concerts, the orchestra performs at our Carol Services and at St Dunstan’s Church in nearby Cranbrook.
The Lime Avenue Jazz Band
The Lime Avenue Jazz Band combines our top wind and brass instrumentalists with a rhythm section of the School’s best bass, drum kit, piano and guitar players. The band provides an evening of jazz and popular music each year at our early Summer Arts Festival. It also performs at various school functions and fundraisers in prestigious London venues, often with students featured as invited guest vocalists.
Running these three top ensembles would not be possible without a wide range of other groups rehearsing each week, getting girls happily involved and generally making the music department a buzzy, exciting place for all our young musicians to come to.
There are two string orchestras in addition to the Senior String Orchestra. The Junior String Orchestra is for players of approximately Grade 1 to 3 level and String Orchestra is for those from Grade 4 to 6, or those players that need time to build their experience of ensemble playing before joining our more advanced ensembles.
For girls who play woodwind, brass or percussion, and who like musicals and pop music, there is the Concert Band. Members of this group have generally got beyond the earliest stages of their development and are either looking for the opportunity to work towards joining our top ensembles, or simply just want to get together in a large ensemble with a big sound and make music.
Smaller groups also have their place in the Benenden Music Department. Chamber groups flourish with dedicated saxophone, flute, recorder and brass ensembles, as well as string trios and quartets rehearsing each week and performing regularly. There are a number of singer/songwriter partnerships and rock bands working on their own repertoire under the discreet supervision of our guitar teacher.