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This academic year we are celebrating 150 years since the birth

of the great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff!

We will be marking this year by learning all about the man and his music, listening to and performing his work, and exploring his fabulous "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini", one of his most famous pieces for piano and orchestra. Read on for more details!



Autumn Term 2022

During the first half of this term, children in our Academy and Creative streams will be listening to Rachmaninoff's Paganini Variations and completing a diary of their listening in their practice diaries. (You'll find this section close to the front.) If you'd like to listen to this piece or need some support at home in completing this activity, check out or Support for Learning page.

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Visiting Composer

Yshani Perinpanayagam

At our first Saturday afternoon workshop on 15th October, we are extremely excited to be visited by contemporary composer Yshani Perinpanayagam! Yshani composed an original piece "T Spinning", based on Rachmaninoff's Paganini variations. This piece's theme comes from the famous game "Tetris"! All Academy and Creative students will be able to spend the afternoon exploring her piece and learning what it's like to be a professional composer. Listen here to our own Madalina Rusu's recording of Yshani's piece back in 2020.

Live performance of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Madalina Rusu and the Banbury Symphony Orchestra.


On 26th November, Madalina will perform this wonderful piece with the Banbury Symphony Orchestra, at Deddington Church, Deddington. If you would like to make the journey and listen live, you can find tickets here. We will, of course, do our best to share some snippets with everyone via social media.

Madalina has performed with the orchestra on several occasions in the past, including performances of Grieg's piano concerto in 2019 and Rachmaninoff's most famous work, Piano Concerto no 2 in 2017.


Into the Spring 2023... New Year, New Works!

As we move into the new year, the focus for our Creative stream will turn to composition! After studying the genre of Theme and Variations, we will be challenging each student to write a new variation, either as an individual or as a collaboration. The theme of this work is yet to be decided by the students themselves, but we hope to combine the most adventurous compositions into a completely new work, to be premiered by the students and teachers at the concert at St. Andrew and St. George's Church on 4th March 2023.


The programme, performed primarily by Madalina Rusu, will contain several works by Rachmaninoff and will form the focal point of our celebrations this year. Also to be performed will be several other original themes and variations including Yshani Perinpanayagam's "T-Spinning"; "Time", written by Melanie Spanswick for Madalina in 2019 and published by Schott Music in the collection "Simply Driven"; and "Once Around the Sun", variations on the name 'Harriet', composed by Jeni Warder for her niece's first birthday in 2022. Tickets for this concert will be available soon on our events page.

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