Headteacher’s Newsletter – Friday 1st December 2023
Tiffin School has a national reputation for exceptional music-making. Central to its success is an ambitious and inclusive programme of classroom music lessons, engaging over 500 pupils at Key Stage 3 and 100 pupils at GCSE and A level. These support a wide range of co-curricular opportunities. Each year, Tiffin musicians present more than 50 performances, ranging from concerts of major choral and orchestral works to chamber music recitals, jazz evenings, open mic events and musical theatre productions. Tiffin musicians have performed regularly at major venues, including the ROH, RAH, RFH, Barbican, Coliseum, Wigmore Hall, Holland Park, St. John’s Smith Square, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, performing alongside leading UK and international ensembles such as the Royal Opera, ENO, LSO, RPO, LPO, BBCSO, Philharmonia, L.A. & Strasbourg Philharmonics, Prague Symphony, Opera Holland Park, Dunedin Consort and Steve Reich Ensemble. Tiffin musicians have recorded and broadcast on national radio and television for the BBC, ITV and Classic FM with artists including Madonna, Danny Elfman and Emma Thompson, from locations such as Abbey Road, Cardington and Air Studios, leading to an extensive Grammy-nominated discography. They have appeared on screen and in film soundtracks including The Batman, Dumbo, Last Christmas, Philomena and The Hobbit. Tiffin musicians have toured extensively in Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Russia, China and Australia.
All Year 7 pupils sing from their first day at school: it is quite usual for members of the rugby teams also to be in the choir. In their first year, each pupil will compete in the Year 7 Inter-Form Choir and House Singing Competitions before performing the finale to the School Spring Concert with the 180-strong Year 7 Chorus. Many will also sing their first major choral work as members of the Tiffin Oratorio and Tiffin Boys’ Choirs.
Since its foundation in 1957, the Tiffin Boys’ Choir is one of the few state school choirs to have remained continually at the forefront of the choral music scene in the UK. Together with the Tiffin Chamber Choir, established in 2019 with the school’s co-educational sixth form, these choirs provide outstanding opportunities for the school’s most able singers. The Tiffin Children’s Chorus, welcoming pupils aged 8-16 from other local schools, joins these choirs in performing, recording and broadcasting major works with leading professional ensembles in prestigious venues. The 200-strong Oratorio Choir welcomes all members of the Tiffin School community: pupils, staff, parents, alumni and friends, to perform a major choral work in November each year. These choirs are complemented by ensembles including the Tiffinians, Cantare and Cambiata Choirs, providing acapella singing and training opportunities for pupils of all ages, voice types, and levels of experience.
Each week, an impressive range of instrumental ensembles meet and rehearse together at Tiffin School. For every instrumentalist, whatever their musical interest or experience, there is an ensemble for them. The full programme of activities, detailed on the music rehearsals timetable, takes place every week during term time. Tiffin instrumentalists are given the opportunity to join symphony and string orchestras; concert, wind, jazz and rock bands; wind, brass and string chamber groups; and a variety of student-led ensembles. Performing at venues both within and beyond the school, in concert series such as Music in New Malden, Canbury Bandstand, and Thames Concerts, Tiffin School’s instrumentalists play symphonies and concertos, suites and quartets, musical theatre productions, and many jazz rock and pop standards, covers and arrangements. Joining an instrumental ensemble is easy: pupils simply attend the next rehearsal with their musical instrument.
Following their involvement in music at Tiffin, an exceptional number of pupils have won music scholarships to study a wide range of subjects at Cambridge, Oxford and other Russell Group universities. Others have gained places to study at world-class UK and international conservatoires. Tiffinians have been awarded organ and choral scholarships as members of Clare, Emmanuel, Jesus, King’s, St. John’s, Trinity and Queen’s colleges in Cambridge, and Balliol, Exeter, LMH, Lincoln, Magdalen, Merton, Oriel and Queen’s colleges in Oxford. They have won places to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Leeds College of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and the Hanns Eisler Institute Berlin.