Director of Music Mr Paul Gaske keeps us up to date with Grammar’s music news.


Competition Success

The Music Scholars have had some great successes in recent competitions:

Milo Abrahams (V) was announced as overall winner at the KPO NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition on Saturday night playing the Mozart Bassoon Concerto – an amazing achievement.

Milo also won the Lane Cove Concert Bands Young Soloists Competition in June with his twin brother Harvey placing second. Congratulations to all boys. We are very proud of them!

Leo Huang (III) entered the Sydney Eisteddfod winning the 20 Years and Under Brass Solo and placing second in the 15 and Under Brass Solo. In the NSW Band Association State Solos Leo won the Under 19 and Under 15 High Tuba sections, and the Under 19 and Under 15 Tenor Trombone sections, and was awarded the Under 19 Brass Champion of the Champions.

Milo Abrahams (V)

Raymond Wang (III) recently won three sections in the Sydney Eisteddfod – the Under 15 Clarinet Solo, the Under 20 Clarinet Solo, and the Open (Any Age) Woodwind Concerto. This is a very impressive achievement!

Sean Weatherly (V) placed first in the Under 20 Violin section of the Sydney Eisteddfod. Many other boys from Grammar have competed and performed very well and there are still a number of sections to go!

Raymond Wang also competed as a finalist performing the first movement from Weber‘s Clarinet Concerto No. 2. Congratulations to both boys – such fantastic work.

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Raymond Wang (III)

Strike A Chord

Both ensembles entered in Musica Viva’s Strike A Chord competition this year won prizes. Whilst they didn’t make the grand final, the Senior Quintet (Lucas Woo, Will Pearson, Rohan Keshava, Jason Fan and Tom Henderson) won the Woodwind Prize, and the Form III Piano Quintet, who performed the Schumann at the Term I Concert (Jerry Yu, Felix Chan, Darren Jeng, Vince Li and Jamie Wallace), won the Junior Prize.

Pictured: The Senior Quintet


The Keyboard Soirée in Term II gave a number of boys learning piano at the School the chance to perform for family and friends. After several years of Zoom lessons and limited performance opportunities it was a wonderful opportunity to share music together in person and for parents to meet their sons’ piano teachers. A wide range of solo piano repertoire was performed, from Mozart and jazz arrangements to Chopin’s legendary Ballade No.1 in G minor.

The first few weeks of Term III saw two very different vocal soirées take place. Pupils of Mr Koen van Stade presented Chant to Cage, a programme exploring the history of vocal music from the Middle Ages through to the modern era. The boys performed unaccompanied plainchant from as early as the 9th Century, a variety of works from the Renaissance through to the Romantic period, and a snapshot of more modern works from the art music and musical theatre traditions. Mr van Stade, Mr Wagner and Ms Campbell accompanied the boys on organ, harpsichord or piano according to the composers’ original intentions. The performance of John Cage’s Litany for the Whale led us almost full circle with four singers calling unaccompanied to each other from the corners of Big School.

A week later the vocal pupils of Ms Kym Parrish presented an equally engaging but very different programme – Connected – which explored the effect of having information and the ability to connect at our fingertips through the smartphone. Taking the form of a cabaret, the evening featured an original script written by Ms Parrish with songs from the musical theatre genre interspersed throughout. Ms Parrish accompanied the boys at the piano and both audience and performers enjoyed the more informal seating plan. Solos and duets were interspersed with banter, tap dancing and lots of laughs in this most entertaining evening.

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Alexander Yiu (I), Zachary Harvey (I) and Angus Sharpe (I) at the Piano Soirée

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Mr Koen van Stade conducting at one of the Vocal Soirées

Guitar Concert

On Monday 1 August 2022, our five Guitar Ensembles (Form I – VI) performed both individually and in two combined guitar orchestras in the Ascham, Cranbrook and Sydney Grammar Schools’ Combined Guitar Concert in the Ascham School Packer Theatre.

The Tarrega and Tommy Emmanuel ensembles opened the concert. Tarrega impressed us with a full and confident sound in a splendid rendition of Peter de Monchaux’s Espanol No. 2. Tommy Emmanuel followed with the well-known Pink Panther Theme. Both pieces were conducted by Mr Christopher Keane. Next up was the Ascham Guitar Orchestra, conducted by Mr Richard Charlton. They are a large orchestra and performed two pieces, very cleverly arranged by their conductor. The concert continued with our Aguado and Segovia ensembles. They performed Cantar and An Dro, led ably by their leaders. The only guitar solo for the night was performed by Marcus Chun from Cranbrook. He gave a very accomplished rendition of Piazzolla’s Invierno Porteño. Cranbrook School then performed a couple of pieces. The highlight of the evening was two pieces where the three schools combined in one large guitar orchestra. Rumba Romantica was conducted by Mr Christopher Keane and La Cumparsita was conducted by Mr Richard Charlton. The stage was fully packed with a hundred-plus girls and boys. The pieces were played with much gusto and it was obvious that all involved demonstrated their very best musical skills. It will be a night remembered by all players and the audience alike.

Term Concerts

The Term I Concert featured many of Grammar’s large ensembles with some smaller chamber ensembles interspersed. Highlights included Jerry Yu (III) with the Form III String Quartet playing the Allegro Brillante from Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat, Opus 44. Seymour Orchestra presented Percy Grainger’s Handle in the Strand and AMCO performed the final movement of Sonata for String Orchestra by William Walton. Wind Ensemble performed Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry and Big Band presented The Queen Bee by Sammy Nestico. The winner of the 2021 Form V Instrumental Competition, Rohan Keshava (VI) performed the first movement of the Piano Concerto in F Minor by Anton Arensky with School Orchestra. Bassoon Quartet performed Barr- Phonics by Nigel Westlake in a touching dedication to bassoon teacher Ms Clare Payne, who at that stage was battling cancer.

Vocal ensembles were featured in the Term II Concert. The larger choirs, School Choir and Cantorum presented works by Mr John Rutter and Mr Philip Wilby respectively and the smaller vocal groups, Junior Vocal Ensemble, Croonivores and Grammarphones presented a wide variety of repertoire from show tunes to traditional folk songs. Many of the instrumental consorts also performed at this concert – the Flutes, Clarinets, Brass and a number of Percussion ensembles. Term III Concert A was band focused. All the bands based at College Street performed and were joined by the Stevens Band from St Ives Preparatory School along with the Tuba and Trumpet ensembles from College Street. The concert certainly highlighted the depth and breadth of the band programme.

Here is a montage of snapshots from the Term I and Term II Concerts

Music Association

For over forty years, the Sydney Grammar School Music Association has supported the Music Department both financially and physically in many ventures and concerts. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic certainly curtailed a lot of their activities it was pleasing to see them swing into action again for the Senior Production, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The Music Association donned themed costumes and served themed food, drinks and cocktails in the AMT foyer. It really added to the festive atmosphere of the production!