Inside King's-Edgehill School

A Horn That Speaks English If One Gets the Chance

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 30, 2020 4:38:42 PM

Grade 11 student, Mitchell Larkin is a fine musician. As our concerns of COVID prevent us from having School ensemble rehearsals for the time being, it doesn't stop Mitchell from maintaining a rigourous daily practice schedule. He plays the oboe in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, and he has been invited to play in the National Youth Band of Canada again, once it gets up and running post COVID restrictions. Recently, he managed to acquire a Cor anglias, more commonly known as English horn. This instrument is very expensive. Even a cheap one is well over $5000, so you can only imagine what a professional model might cost. This prevents most people from getting the chance to play one. Mitchell has impressed them at the Dalhousie University Fountain School of Performing Arts, and they have loaned him a quality English horn in the hope that he will decide to study there upon graduating from KES. Being able to double will improve his odds of landing a career as a double reed specialist in a professional orchestra after university. 

Chatting with Mitchell the other day, he brought to my attention a variety of countries that have instruments named after other nations. I have asked him to demo his new acquisition and to share his story about the horn names as well. Interesting indeed.

Please click here to watch Mitchell's video. 

Exploring the English Horn
Grade 11 KES Student, Principle Oboe - Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Second Oboe/English Horn - National Youth Band of Canada 2021

“The English Horn has an endearing quality, which is that it’s not perfect, much like the human voice. Other orchestra instruments can be very technical, very meticulous. The English Horn is not like that (…) this is perhaps the reason composers love it so much; it’s something exotic, something you can’t quite put your finger on.” - Pedro Diaz, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

I chose Pedro’s quote to open this article as I think it best suits the experience I've had with the English Horn as an instrument. Being an oboist, you can become very tied up in the exact sciences that are reed making, perfect intonation, advanced articulations... It’s all rather tiresome. Little known fact, with the skills gained from playing the oboe well, one is at once capable of playing the English Horn. They are members of the same instrument family and are based on the same principles of playing, only varying in physical size and pitch. This goes as far as the fingerings being completely identical, and the range of the instrument being very similar albeit tuned down a perfect fifth. In many ways, the English Horn is the cheat instrument of the wind section; you can play it in the same concert as oboe without ever being tasked with transposing the music mentally. Your only concerns as an English Horn player are to a) have an instrument that works, and b) efficiently switch between the oboe and English Horn without interfering with the music. Dalhousie University, (by way of my teacher Suzanne Lemieux) has graciously lent me their English Horn for this orchestra season. This has given me a chance to explore the characteristics of the instrument and practice trading between oboe and English Horn in rehearsals with my ensemble. Overall, I’ve noticed a clear trend since day one, which is that the oboe is an unforgiving beast of an instrument. Behind the beautiful singing lines, the oboe is a finicky and difficult instrument in all regards. As such, I’ve begun using the English Horn as an end of practice escape from the woes of the oboe. The oboe’s struggles in the low register are nearly terminated by the English Horn’s larger reeds. The oboe’s notorious instability of pitch when starting the air to play is easily put to rest by the English Horn’s soft and swell-like attack. This trend continues to everything short of larger dynamics and high-register playing as the English Horn struggles to play loud or high as a result of its larger bore. In the end, I love them both. I’m an oboist through and through and such is the nature of being in the oboe family. That being said, the English Horn supplies a lovely departure from the typical oboe sound and is good fun to play any time a composer calls for it.

I hope you will enjoy this video I’ve compiled demonstrating a quick range comparison and some famous orchestra solos for the oboe and English Horn. Also, be sure to stay tuned to event postings in the Halifax area, as the NSYO is currently in rehearsals for what is sure to be an exciting first post-COVID concert. Socially distanced, of course! Mitchell Larkin

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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

Grade 10 Acrylic Paintings

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 26, 2020 2:00:00 PM

The Grade 10 Art class just completed their painting project which was influenced by Post-Impressionism. Post-Impressionism is a French art movement that developed between 1886 and 1905 which emerged as a reaction against Impressionists' concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Post-Impressionists extended impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, often thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, distorted form for expressive effect, and the use of unnatural or arbitrary colour.

The focus of this painting project was colour and texture. The students were given stretched canvas which they built up an under painting using a palette knife focusing on colour and texture. From there, they constructed the form of their chosen subject, painting dark to light tones. 

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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

Grade 9 Art Class Watercolours

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 16, 2020 10:38:26 PM

The Grade 9 Art class has been experimenting with many different types of media. They are presently working on acrylic painting on stretched canvas with the theme of viewing the object “close up”, influenced by the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe.
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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Arts At KES, ARTS

Composing with Composure

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 11, 2020 7:51:43 PM

Senior day student,   Victoria Dubois, has been featured in quite a few of my Headmaster's Newsletter articles, and for good reason. This talented young lady is a full Diploma Candidate who will test out in IB Higher Level Music in the spring. Her portfolio demands are not slight, even though the written exam component has been removed due to COVID-19, still there are challenges. She is a capable flautist and must perform and record her recitals. She is required to produce a 2000-word musical links investigation artistic-style media script comparing two diverse musical genres. In addition, she is required to compose and perform two original selections. With his famous composition, Kermit The Frog sang "It's Not Easy Being Green"; however, this clip reveals Victoria wearing her cadet greens and performing her latest composition,  The Place You Go with creative musicality and composure. She makes green look and sound beautiful! 
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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

Spooky Halloween Drawing Contest

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 10, 2020 9:02:00 AM

Congratulations to the Art students in Grade 6, 7 and 8, who participated in this year’s Halloween Drawing contest.  Everyone did an amazing job! The Grade 11 IB students had the privilege of judging the contest, and they were looking for originality, creativity and the use of the material that was chosen. They told me that they had a difficult job choosing a winner and wished that they could have given a prize to all the students who submitted drawings. Congratulations to our young artists!
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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

There are Monsters in the Music

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 8, 2020 7:46:00 AM

Although music making at KES is on a limited platform at the moment due to pandemic concerns, I am comforted by the fact that some small 'bubbles' are finding ways to loft successfully, while taking precautions to stay safe from COVID-19. One such bubble group is a duo comprised of Grade 10 students, Sidney Schwartz (piano), and Lucy Goddard (vocals). These two delightful young ladies are both multi-talented and keen to make a little time each day to find a quiet and secluded place to inject a little music therapy into their otherwise demanding schedule of honours level courses. This week I heard them rehearsing their unique rendition of a Sara Bareilles song, entitled Not Alone. The lyric passages that caught my ear were... there is something in the shadows...& ...something sinister and strange... &'re making me feel, the monsters are real... and I thought, hey, it's Halloween time: let's make these sinister monsters in this song real for the occasion. Lucy and Sidney agreed and did this rendition on the first take, making it look easy and sounding great. I hope this song helps you get into a great mindset for All Hallows' Eve; BEWARE of deadly musicality! 

Lucy says: 

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Arts At KES, ARTS

Halloween Drawing Contest for Grades 6-8

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Nov 3, 2020 7:20:00 PM

The Halloween Drawing Art Contest has been an annual tradition in the Junior School for years. We have chosen different themes every year, for example: the scariest drawing, the haunted house drawing, etc. This year, we decided to keep the theme ‘Halloween’ and for our students to use different techniques. The Grade 6 Art class experimented with a resist technique using oil pastels and water; the Grade 7 Art class experimented with ink and watercolours; and the Grade 8 Art class could choose any material that they have been previously introduced to. These drawings and paintings were completed in our Junior School Art classes.
These works of Art are now on display in our Stanfield Dining Hall/McLellan Annex. The contest will be judged on Friday, October 30 by my Grade 12 IB Art class and the name of the winner will be announced later that day. These scary Halloween drawings are all exceptional and all winners. The students should be very proud of their work!

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Topics: Campus Life, Arts At KES, ARTS

Grade 8 Linear Drawings

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Oct 26, 2020 5:25:04 PM

Our Grade 8 Art class has been busy experimenting and learning about one-point linear perspective, both interior and exterior. One-point perspective is the way that objects appear smaller as they get further away and that the parallel lines appear to meet each other at a point in the distance. The point in the distance is either the horizon or the eye level line. The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Florentine architect Fillipo Brunelleshi (1377-1446).
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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

Hidemi Tickling the Ivories

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Oct 24, 2020 11:21:35 AM

Hidemi Sato joined our King's-Edgehill School community two years ago and has now returned to see out her Senior year. I am very proud of Hidemi for a whole lot of reasons, but here is one of exceptional accomplishment: Hidemi completed her IB SL Solo Performance Certificate in music last spring with stellar results, despite Distance Learning! She was at home in Japan when COVID-19 restrictions became a reality. At the very same time, all of the work and portfolios were due for submission to the International Baccalaureate programme. This was concerning enough; however, the requirements were also modified at the last minute. Needless to say, all of our IB students were scrambling to upload their work. In Hidemi's case, she managed to rent a piano studio and record her selections. She made the modifications to her research documents and other related material and achieved the upload deadline within a few mere hours of it.

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Topics: Campus Life, Arts At KES, ARTS

Fiddle Tunes for Fall Colours

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Oct 20, 2020 7:19:09 PM

At this time of year in Nova Scotia, the trees are changing to their fall colours, and keeping in stride with the beauty of the country landscape is a celebration of our traditional music, most notably being the music of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. There are usually live concerts, but there are fewer this year due to the pandemic restrictions, and most of the performances are streamed on the internet. Celtic Colours International Festival began on October 9th and runs through to October 17th and, I encourage you to follow the link to enjoy some of our local talent.
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Topics: Arts At KES, ARTS

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