An Audient ASP8024 Heritage Edition mixing console now sits at the heart of the recently refurbished Music Department at Bath’s prestigious Royal High School for girls (RHS). The upgrade led to the school’s elevation to ‘Steinway Music School’ status and was the brainchild of Director of Music, Mark Bradbury. His vision was to create a Music School that was different from every other school in Bath.
ASP8024 Heritage Edition: “a fantastic piece of kit”
The renovation took three years of design and planning, with the recording studio a crucial part, according to Mark. “Having this facility and resource now means we are able to offer A-Level Music Technology, which has become very popular.” He adds, “Having previously been a session musician for a number of years before I went into teaching, I am fully aware of the need to get more girls into the production side of the industry.”
Located in what was the old Gatehouse – a huge building that was previously in a state of disrepair – the Music Department now comprises a contemporary recital room, new teaching spaces, eight practice rooms, two recording studios and a control room.
“I love the ease and accessibility of everything being in one place.”
“For many years the Music Department was housed in what was a boarding area – all the practice rooms used to be dormitories, so the space was never really ‘fit for purpose’. Parents’ Evenings and Open Days were always the worst and hardest part of my job – trying to explain to potential parents and students that music at the Royal High School was excellent whilst showing them dreadful resources and facilities,” laments Mark.
That has all changed now, with the Heritage Edition console at the heart of the new Music School’s recording studio. “It’s a fantastic piece of kit. The girls and I are absolutely loving it!” he says, estimating that at least 200 students will get their hands on it over the course of a year. “It has a fantastic layout which is ideal for teaching. The patchbay is great and I love the ease and accessibility of everything being in one place.”
“It has a fantastic layout which is ideal for teaching”
Despite lockdown (which left Mark alone in the Music School, teaching remotely) the Audient console has already had a lot of use. A-Level Music Technology is now running and Music Tech Clubs are being organised so that girls in different year groups are able to access the technology. GCSE and A-Level Music students have also been recording their recitals using the desk. In addition, Sixth Formers recorded podcasts and there is even a plan for the Modern Foreign Languages Department to record the conversational coursework elements of their respective GCSE and A Level courses.
Specified and installed by Bristol-based technical specialists, Enlightened, the Music School’s upgrade came at the same time as the arrival of ten Steinway pianos, two of which are integrated into the recording setup. Mark explains: “We are able to record directly from the Recital Room where the Model B Grand Piano is housed, as well as having the AS Grand Piano in the recording Studio.”
“We have access to Steinway Concert Halls in London, New York and Beijing”
Mark describes the honour of becoming a Steinway Music School as “the icing on the cake.” Joining some 200 other musical establishments around the globe with the same classification, the girls’ school is entitled to all manner of additional benefits. “We have access to Steinway Concert Halls in London, New York and Beijing – which means I can arrange for our musicians to perform there. Any artist that is endorsed by Steinway is able to come to the school and give a masterclass or concert for our girls,” he says.
Once things get back to the ‘new normal’ in a post-Covid world, Mark tells us that the studio will open commercially outside of term-time. “Also it will be available for the local community and other schools to use as part of the school’s outreach programme.” Looking to the future, Mark’s vision remains focussed. “With this facility and resource, the department is in a strong position to become a Centre Of Excellence for Music.”
Rightly so, we reckon.
Photos by James Cheadle
Featured image caption: (L-R) Mark Bradbury, Director of Music, JP Cavacao from Enlightened and Bryn Wildish from Audient