The Perse School

400th anniversary music project

23 Mar 2016

Last Friday saw the culmination of weeks of hard work from Perse pupils from across the Pelican, Prep and Upper. The 3-18 concert saw ensembles and choirs from the three schools perform in concert together for the first time.

Pupils have been working with award-winning composer Rachel Leach, and London Symphony Orchestra Matthew Gibson (double bass) and Jonathan Lipton (horn). Together they have created their own compositions taking inspiration from three great composers from the past 400 years – Bach, Beethoven and Britten.

Rachel Leach said: ” I was thrilled to be asked to write a piece to celebrate The Perse School’s special anniversary. Perse 400 features four movements for orchestra which borrow ideas from 400 years of music history. After a modern introduction we whizz back to Baroque times for a passacaglia – a repeating bassline loosely based on the work of 16th century composer Orlando Gibbons. After this there’s a Classical sonata form movement, the main theme of which is based on the words ‘Perse’, ‘Pelican’, ‘Prep’ and ‘Upper’. Then a movement which, in line with many great 19th century symphonic works, has a secret story at its core, and finally we’re up to date with a modern finale and new anthem for the School. These movements were interspersed with new work created by the students in workshop sessions with LSO musicians Matthew Gibson and Jonathan Lipton. Upper students have reworked the bassline from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a group from the Prep re-write Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and the Pelican follow Benjamin Britten’s lead in stealing from Purcell.”

The concert also saw a new setting of the school song words from c.1950:

Let us acclaim in song
Those who have passed along
Whose names appear on England’s story
Whose work won neither fame nor glory
Help us to emulate deeds that are good and great
So, beside our own ambition Perse’s name has held proud position
For 400 years

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