In the middle of a very busy examination season, the boys running Eton’s various societies managed to organise over 40 meetings, including: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, speaking on the eve of the general election about politics and civil rights (Political); Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, on recent developments in laws on privacy (Law); Dr Ruth Padel, poet and descendent of Darwin, giving a reading in Eton’s Natural History Museum, in an event titled ‘On the Origin of Poetry’ (Literary and Scientific); Sir Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to Washington and author of the memoir DC Confidential, on the idea of the special relationship (Salisbury); Professor Tim Gowers, Fields Medallist and musician, on mathematics and jazz (Parry); war historian Dr William Philpott giving a reassessment of the Battle of the Somme (Historical); explorer Alex Hibbert on performing the longest ever unsupported polar journey (Shackleton); Shakespeare scholar Professor Jonathan Bate on culture and environment (Literary); Dr Peter Pormann, classicist and orientalist, on the Greek-Arabic translation movement (Middle Eastern); Surgeon Commander Jonathan Perry on practising medicine in Afghanistan (Attic); and the ancient historian Robin Lane Fox on Alexander the Great (Classical).
In the final of the Senior House Debating, College and Mr Noakes’s spoke on the adoption of the Euro, while Mr Grenier’s and Mr Newton’s debated whether to vote Conservative in the General Election. This was a very close affair, and the adjudicators eventually chose Mr Noakes’s, led by Thomas Aedy OS, as the winners. In the Junior House Debating final, Mr Sellers’s and Mr Newton’s spoke on whether copyright does more harm than good, while College and Mr Nolan’s addressed the question of whether England should have its own parliament. First place was awarded to College, represented by Daoud Jackson KS and Harry Elliott KS.
The summer programme began with Charlie Parham’s (GRP) breath-taking production of Martin Crimp’s Attempts on her Life. He brought together an impressive and inventive ensemble company which created a rich mixture of hilarity and pathos. Dr Liviero directed Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, ably supported by Mr Goode as music director and Miss Katie Lowe as choreographer. Francis Kerr (NCWS) as Pseudolus the slave controlled the mischief and mayhem on stage; whilst few will forget Patrick Leigh-Pemberton KS as the statuesque prostitute, Gymnasia. The Lower Boy Acting Group ended the half with a passionate and compelling production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, directed with playful inventiveness by our out-going Director-in-Residence, Mr Nick Chambers. Under his professional name Hal Chambers, he will be part of the newly revived Etonian company, Double Edge, which premiers a new play, Robbie Wakes which he has written with Archie Cornish KS, at the Big Belly, Underbelly in Edinburgh 5-15 August. The play is the first drama venture to be supported by the Fred Hood Fund, which was set up in memory of Fred Hood who was one of the founding spirits of Double Edge.
Next half the in-coming Director-in-Residence is Miss Rebecca Steel who specialises in movement theatre. She will direct Laila Majnu by Tariq Mir (RAAC) as part of the School Play Festival. Other plays in the Festival are The Writer by Mr Jonathan Newton, Notes by Archie Cornish KS, Lines by Giacomo Sain (PB), The Golden Oasis by Mr Angus Graham-Campbell and Lashings of Ginger Beer by Marcus Chenevix-Trench (PBS) and Quintin Beer (RDO-C). The Comedy Society will also perform as part of the Festival Fringe. The School Play Festival runs from Wednesday 13 to Saturday 16 October.
The Farrer Theatre Award for outstanding contribution to Eton Drama was shared by Archie Cornish KS and Giacomo Sain (PB). The Keeper’s Cup for outstanding contribution to Lower Boy acting went to Jonah Hauer-King (CMJ). The Ronald Watkins Shakespeare Award for the best performance in a Shakespeare Play went to Barney Harris (NCWS) who played Imogen in the Lower Boy production of Cymbeline.
Despite the heat, School Hall was packed to hear an exceptional performance of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D minor, played by an exceptional musician, Michael Twaddle (RAAC). It was also a considerable achievement for the Symphony Orchestra, who rose to the challenge of this demanding work and gave a powerful performance under the baton of Mr Jack Rozman. It is a mark of the work’s difficulty for performers that the Sibelius Violin Concerto has never been performed in an Eton Summer Concert before, and it took a unique combination of talented boy musicians to bring it off. Followed by the tragic passion of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture, this was a programme of great emotional intensity.
Another high point was a performance of Thomas Tallis’s magnificent Spem in alium nunquam habui composed in 1570 at the pinnacle of Renaissance polyphony. Written in 40 parts for 8 choirs of 5 voices each, it is maybe the most difficult choral piece of that period for both singers and conductor. From time to time over the years, the right combination of talented boys comes together to give a performance. This year, conducted by Nicholas Lee (RAAC) and sung by members of College Chapel Choir, it was the heart of the ECMS Concert in College Chapel on The Fourth of June – a remarkable achievement.
Also no mean achievement was the performance of Pater Noster composed by F Blocker Max James (MNF) for 8 voices and sung entirely by F Block members of College Chapel Choir under Max’s direction. The F Block music scholars’ concert on 30 May, rehearsed and organised by George Howard with the thoroughness and efficiency of a military operation, gave a foretaste of music-making to come.
Mr Jack Rozman is taking 17 members of the Chamber Orchestra to Shanghai in July to perform in the World Expo Music Festival. This has been another major undertaking requiring significant logistical organisation. The Windsor Festival runs from 18 September to 3 October next half. College Chapel Choir join with St. George’s Chapel Choir in St. George’s Chapel on 19 September for the opening gala concert to perform Boyce’s Coronation Anthem ‘The Lord is my sun and shield’ and Handel’s Coronation Anthem ‘The King shall Rejoice’ as well as his Dettingen Te Deum. The Choir will be singing Bruckner motets in College Chapel on Thursday 30 September in the annual Eton Boys’ Concert for the Festival which also includes a performance by the Recorder Consort, a movement from Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat K452 and the Arne Organ Concerto No 4 in B flat.
This half has rounded off an extraordinary two years for the Boat Club’s senior athletes. The VIII’s win at Henley secured the coveted treble of wins at the Schools’ Head, National Schools’ and Henley for the second year in a row. Many of these wins, not least that over Kent School, the American Schools’ Champions, in the final of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup have been achieved in emphatic style. Other notable victories for The VIII this half were the coxed and coxless fours events at National Schools’ Regatta (NSR), Elite coxless fours at Wallingford and Senior eights at Marlow, both the latter against some of the best club crews in the country. Half of The VIII will return next year, but we bid farewell to some talented boys, and to Mr Alex Henshilwood, who has coached with great passion, commitment and innovation over the last six years.
The 2nd VIII were not to be outdone by their contemporaries and won the Child Beale cup for school 1st VIIIs at NSR and, more remarkably, managed to win silver behind members of The VIII in the coxed four event. At Henley they were the only school crew to qualify for the Temple Challenge Cup, where they defeated Cambridge’s lightweight crew to reach the second round.
The Colts group have continued to improve all year, and the A crew won at Bedford before taking bronze in the NSR with the B crew winning their own event. Junior Colts took to the water in large numbers, with as many as five competitive VIIIs, and there were wins for the A’s at Bedford Star (where the B crew also won) and at Thames Valley Park. With over a hundred boys again involved in the F sculling programme, there are plenty of acorns to replace some of the great oak trees leaving us this year.
On the domestic front, Dr G R Pooley’s completed their own treble by regaining the headship in bumps, and winning the Aquatics and Churchill cups. The bumping cup was shared between Mr P B Smith’s and Mr T E J Nolan’s.
A host of boys is in the frame to represent Great Britain this summer. Constantine Louloudis KS is now well established in the GB U23 set up and Caspar Jopling (NJR) and Ed Nainby-Luxmoore (CMJ) are already selected for the Youth Games in Singapore in August, and should go to the World Championships. Will Locke (NCWS), Will Kenworthy (PB), Rowan Lawson (RGGP), Josh Bernstein (CJD) and Alastair Camm (PB) will all be attending the GB junior team final trials.
Captain Will Vanderspar (NJR) broke his own runs record for the XI scoring more than 1100 runs before the Silk Trophy had begun at the end of the half. The XI showed skill and resilience throughout the season in Mr Richard Montgomerie’s first season as coach and Mr John Rice’s 25th: both know the value of patience and detail and care for their players. The XI lost out to a mature match-winning innings of 103* by Yunus Sert in the Eton v Harrow match at Lord’s. The block fixture against Radley was a particular highlight – with good cricket played in a proper competitive spirit by more than 300 boys from both schools.
Other highlights of the season included strong performances from Threepenny 1 and Lower Sixpenny A. E Block enjoyed a very good year group throughout and all six teams had successful seasons. The seven Threepenny (F Block) sides were enthusiastic and confident and produced several centuries and hat-tricks. Upper Sixpenny finished their season in good form as they found their run-scoring and fielding much improved. The XXII were also a successful side, led intelligently by Freddie Fox (CMJ). They ended the season by defeating an excellent MCC Young Cricketers (Women)’s side. In the final weeks of the season, the XI played tour matches against St Peter’s, Adelaide and Scotch College, Melbourne; also Rondebosch Boys High School and Maritzburg from South Africa and a group of Afghan refugee cricketers. The season ended with victory in the Silk Trophy, the fitting climax on the last day being a stylish 125 by Will Vanderspar against Shrewsbury. Once again, the boys were supported by an outstanding group of Masters leading coaching throughout the school.
A very good tennis season continues. At the end of the half, the school 1st team reached the semi-finals of the Independent Schools Championships (the Youll Cup) where they went out to the eventual winners, Millfield. They then turned their attention to the National Schools Championships (the Glanvill Cup) where Eton has reached the top eight schools for the first time.
In Athletics, the senior team made a flying start to the season, notching up big wins in the first two fixtures, although injuries later on meant that they had to cede superiority to other schools. The Keepers of Athletics led by example: Nana Owusu-Nyantekyi (PJMcK) broke the long jump record and repeatedly extended his own triple jump record, while Guy MacInnes-Manby (PBS) produced a string of brave performances in the hurdles and sprints. The other senior athlete in red hot form was Dom Smith (MJP), whose 400m runs were extraordinary. Dom equalled the oldest Eton track record of 48.5s from 1965 and anchored the 4 x 400m team at the Achilles relays on 6 May, setting a new record of 3.25.3. The other members were Shane Adams (IH), Leo Morris (PJMcK) and Joe Murdy (RPDF).
At Intermediate level the team performed resolutely against classy opposition and a win was eventually achieved after short leave at Worcester, with many fine personal bests. Before that the intermediate 4 x 200m team of Gus Jones (DMG), Leslie Dickson-Tetteh (DMG), Sam Williams KS and Charlie Harris (PBS) broke a 34 year-old record in a time of 1.38.3. The pole-vaulter James Dixon (RGGP) broke the Intermediate record with an excellent height of 3.35m.
The junior team was once more small in number and found it tough to make their mark on the circuit. However, a nucleus of committed boys trained really hard all season and will undoubtedly have more success as they move up the school.
Eton athletes once more dominated the Berkshire championships on 12 June, with nine gold medals. Will Ryle-Hodges (RGGP) turned in a wonderful 3000m run of 9.06.4 to knock 12 seconds off the old senior record, earning his spurs as Keeper for next year. The other Keeper will be Dom Smith, who together with Nana Owusu-Nyantekyi will represent Berkshire at the English National Schools Championships on 9/10 July in Birmingham. As in previous years the event will be televised on Sky Sports. Particular thanks are owed to Mr Damian Henderson, the Master-in-charge, who moves on to another post, for his adroit and supportive management of athletics.
A footnote to athletics news is the continuing success of Lawrence Clarke OE, who is not only the number one U23 hurdler in the UK and BUCS champion, but also finished 3rd in the Men’s UK Championships in Bedford on 27 June – a remarkable season so far.
The Under 18 team, captained by Josh Studholme (GRP), reached the final of the English Schools Water Polo championship for the first time, where they lost narrowly 4-5 to Trinity, Carlisle.
The polo society had a very strong A team this year with a total handicap of two goals, which is unusual for a school team. They started the season with a close game against a good Royal Navy team at Tidworth to retain the Kumar cup. The team grew in confidence as they entered the inaugural Wellington invitational tournament and over two days of exciting polo won the Copenhagen cup. Led by keeper Gonzalo Entrecanales (NCWS), further silverware was added to the collection from good wins against Cirencester Park Polo Club and Cheltenham in a season where they won 6 of their 9 matches.
Mr McKee’s beat Mr Grenier’s to lift the Senior House trophy. Mr Roberts’s won the Junior House competition, with College runners-up. In what has become a regular fixture, the school team beat Harrow 30-12.
In this year’s Chemistry Olympiad Charlie Zhou KS and Eric Hambro (AW) were awarded Gold Certificates with Billy Aldridge (JDN) and George Howard (RJM) being awarded Silver.
Tom Holliday (CMJ) won the ‘Manufacture and Finish Award’ at the South East region of the Young Engineer for Britain. His project was a fine piece of product design which involved an innovative approach to helping elderly and disabled people needing to work from a wheel chair.
Inspiration to our current actors came from Eddie Redmayne (ex JRC) who has won a Tony Award in New York for his performance in Red, a play about Mark Rothko.