At the end of last term, the College’s Jazz Band, ‘The Prospect Jazz Collective’, travelled to France to perform in Rushmoor’s twin town of Meudon. The Mayor of Meudon had invited them to add some festive sparkle to the Christmas markets.
The weekend was packed with a variety of performances. At the markets, the group entertained shoppers and spread festive cheer in the cold weather. The audiences enjoyed jazz favourites such as ‘Doxy’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’, alongside Christmas numbers such as ‘Let it Snow’.
The group also performed at the Lycée Rabelais, Meudon’s secondary school, and at one of Paris’s premier international sports and social clubs, Standard Athletic Club. As well as visiting Paris, students explored the rich musical heritage in Meudon, including the houses where Wagner composed ‘The Flying Dutchman’ and where Stravinsky first performed his ‘Rite of Spring’ with Debussy as a piano duet. Students were also lucky enough to visit Marcel Dupré’s Auditorium which is home to his organ and the piano of Paderewki!
The highlight of the trip was the masterclass with Alex Pivot, jazz pianist and Head of Jazz Studies at Meudon Conservatoire, followed by a concert performed by our students and students from the conservatoire. It was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with those studying jazz at the Conservatoire through the common language of music. After the concert, there was a buffet prepared by families who had hosted the students. The links between host families and students is incredibly special - over the past few years, several Farnborough students have gone on to spend their gap years in Meudon.
Second year student Sam said, “It was a fantastic experience musically, culturally and socially. I made so many new friends, practised my French skills but most importantly had the opportunity to perform the pieces we have been working on over the past month. It was a weekend I won't ever forget!”
Curriculum Manager for Music, Ben Dowsett, remarked, “Our musical links started with Meudon in 2011 and now playing at the Christmas markets is something students look forward to every year. I never fail to be impressed at how they rise to an occasion, even in unfamiliar situations. In every respect, they have been great representatives of both their college and community. Our links with Meudon have steadily increased and we look forward to exciting projects with the Conservatoire in the near future.”
The trip would not have been possible without the support of Rachel Masey who accompanied the trip, Suzanne Gremillet and her husband Yves from ‘Breaktime’ (Meudon’s Twinning Association) and the amazing generosity of the host families.