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30th June Concert Celebration!

It was such a delight to welcome all the friends and family of the Chamber Music Academy for the end of the performance. This gave the pupils the opportunity to not only showcase some of the pieces that they have been working on, but also demonstrate how their groups have developed and how each pupil has grown as chamber musicians.


With a range of composers from Mozart to Brahms and a mixture of ensemble sizes ranging from a piano trio to a string octet, there was plenty of variety to delight the audience. The pupils had already had a busy morning with coaching from the Jubilee Quartet and the cellist of the Chilingirian Quartet, Stephen Orton and a dramatic concert performance by the Jubilees of Haydn Op.20 No.1 but everyone was enthusiastic to perform and, equally importantly, listen to their peers on a beautifully sunny Saturday afternoon. CMA PROGRAMME 2018


Our thanks go out to all of our tutors including those form the Chilingirian, Endellion, Doric, Jubilee and Piatti Quartet among other eminent musicians but we would especially like to thank the Albert & Eugenie Frost Music Trust and the Radcliffe Trust for enabling this course to happen.DSC_0408.JPG

Fabulous Performances

During the second half of the year the pupils at the Purcell School Chamber Music Academy have been treated to performances from some of the UK most esteemed chamber musicians.

We opened our doors to the Doric Quartet who, for some of them, haven’t been back to the Purcell School since they were studying here themselves. They brought out their transition bows from the late 18th and early 19th centuries and explained to us that these are short and lighter than modern bows and you could hear the different sound and range of articulation that they gave the quartet when playing. The quartet played a movement of 3 contrasting pieces. Aptly, they started with a Purcell fantasy full of conversational lines before moving on to a stunning new piece by Ades, The Four Quarters: Days. The finished with the first moment from one of Beethoven’s greatest quartets, Op.130.

Nathaniel, Piatti Quartet coaching from the Violin IV seat in the Mendelssohn Octet.

In May we were delighted to have back the Piatti Quartet who have been visiting the Purcell School Chamber Music Academy for the past 3 years and regularly stun us with their break time performances. This time, the Piatti Quartet took the opportunity to give their first performance of Britten’s String Quartet No.1 before performing it at the Aldeburgh Festival. They played two movements; they memorized us with the stretched out and stratospheric violin lines of the first movement and those who already knew the piece bobbed along to the rhythmic playfulness of the final movement.

Next week in our final session, not only will we have the joys of listening to the Jubilee Quartet, but all of our pupil ensembles will be playing to each other and their friends and families in our end of year concert!




Half way through the year!

The sessions are whizzing by as we move into the 5th Chamber Music Academy session of the year in only a couple of weeks. We have already had many of our regular coaches with tutors from the Endellion, Chilingirian & Jubilee Quartets.

The more time that the groups get to play together, the more in sync  they become. Getting better antiquated with the notes obviously allows you to pay more attention with what is going around you, but what other ways can a group of individual instruments begin to sound as one? One of our youngest quartets have been using an early Mozart String Quartet to find out how to do this and each of them had a point to say…

  1. Dotted rhythms are really hard to keep together. We were told to all try using the same part of the bow and tried very hard to not to let them swing. You can’t loose concentration!
  2. At one point we even tried not counting in our heads as much and relying more on listening to each other.
  3. Our bowing was really not together… we took some time to figure out with our tutor which bowing would be best and wrote it in all of our parts.
  4. We also struggled with the syncopation bit of the piece. Our tutor suggested the we practise without the tune and then add it on the top so that we had a solid layer that didn’t rock.

Some of the older and more experienced quartets have been working out what repertoire works well for them and exploring different pieces by the same composer.

DSC_0041.JPGWe are very excited to be having the Piatti Quartet returning to CMA on the next session to coach and perform to us all!



30th Sept 2017: 1st Session back

We at The Purcell School opened our doors once again on a late September Saturday for the start of this year’s Chamber Music Academy. The head of CMA, Charles Sewart, welcomed both new and returning participates in the main hall before settling into their new string quartets and getting stuck into some new repertoire.

We were delighted to welcome back out regular coaches Nathaniel Vallois along with the Jubilee Quartet. After a well earned break, all of the students mixed up and joined together to form 5 different chamber ensembles: 1 octet, 2 sextets, 1 quintet and a piano trio! This is a great opportunity for the pupils to explore a greater variety of chamber music and develop their musical interactions in a larger group.

With this year’s stimulating schedule and repertoire, enthusiastic young musicians and a host of eminent coaches this is set to be another exciting year for CMA!

NEW DATES FOR 2017/2018

30th September 2017


4th November 2017

25th November 2017

13th January 2018

24th February 2018

3rd  March 2018

28th April 2018

19th May 2018

June 30th 2018   (with an afternoon concert)

If you wish to find out more about joining, please contact the administrator, Hattie Rayfield, via the Contact Page.


17th June Concert Celebration

It seems to have become traditional to hold CMA’s end of year concert on one of the hottest days of the year. This year did not disappoint! But despite the heat all carried on practising in the morning with coaching from our regular tutors Charles Sewart, Garfield Jackson, Nathaniel Vallois and Pal Banda and new CMA tutor, Julian Leaper.


Each group focused on their concert piece. With all the notes already under their fingers,  each made sure they were creating the right sound and feel of the particular movement they had chosen to perform.

After lunch, The Purcell School’s CP Hall was full with participants’ friends and family, eager to hear the outcome of hours of dedicated practise and expert coaching. Following CMA’s thank-yous from Charles Sewart, which can be found on the back of the programme, the concert began with Dvorak’s most famous work, the American Quartet. Following this lively, folk inspired work was our only piano ensemble giving a contrasting sober performance of the 2nd movement of Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat minor. Their ability to listen and play together was emphasised by the use of silence in this slow movement.


More Dvorak followed, but this group had chosen to play the first movement of his Quartet No.11 in C Major. Having gotten to know the piece very well, the group were able guide the listener through the thick and complex textures of the movement.

Afterwards, two 1st movements of Schubert Quartets.  Anya led our youngest CMA group in a very enthusiastic rendition of his quartet No.9 whilst Gemma’s quartet brought a sorrowful character to Schubert’s A Minor Quartet, ‘Rosamunde.’ A sudden change of sound worlds took place as Polina’s quartet perfectly captured the French sororities of the first 2 movements of the Ravel. The concert finished with the 2nd movement of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, a theme and variation of Schubert’s song of the same name. It began with a captivating chorale like theme before slowly building to a terrifying climax and falling back to an ambiguous ending…

Congratulations to all who played! It was as always an excellent concert and opportunity to showcase their hard work.

Please click here to see the concert programme in PDF format.


25th February 2017 – GCSE Recording!

We were delighted to give one of our pupils the opportunity to record her GCSE Music Ensemble Performance.

Having previously spoken to her school music teacher about the quartet she plays with at CMA, both thought it a great idea to utilise the strong musical relationship the group had already formed. She approached us with the idea and the rep she wanted to play, Borodin String Quartet, and we were more than happy to help! She had already had a few coached sessions on the Borodin with CMA last year and loved the piece.

After a month of private practise, the quartet came together on the 25th Feb to be coached by the head of the CMA Charles Sewart and esteemed cellist Steve Orton before using the acoustics of The Purcell School’s main hall to record the piece. It was great to give her the opportunity to record a piece with musicians of a similar standard – we wish you all the best of luck, it sounded beautiful!



21st Jan: Jubilee play Janáček & pupils learn to lead

A beautifully crisp January morning with Levon Chilingirian and Jubilee Quartet welcomed the Chamber Music Academy and our 6 chamber groups into the New Year. The theme of the week seemed to be focused around leading. Being able to play together is one of the basic requirements of playing music in any size of ensemble but in a string quartet, where there is no-one standing at the front with a baton or sitting at the front of a section, everyone is equally responsible for playing together. Even the best string quartets who have been playing together for decades need to work on playing together by constantly knowing at which moment which member is leading. Continue reading 21st Jan: Jubilee play Janáček & pupils learn to lead

5th November: Getting some sight-reading practice in!

We were pleased to welcome back Levon Chilingirian and the Piatti Quartet to the Purcell School for Chamber Music Academy. As this was the second session, all the groups had already started to get to grips with the notes so they could really focus on playing together and creating the right sound for their piece be it Brahms or Boccherini. One groups however, decided to take on the challenge of sight reading through a Haydn Quartet… Continue reading 5th November: Getting some sight-reading practice in!