12 Days of Christmas
On the 13th Day of Christmas, let there be silence.
“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.”
The Music A level class and their teachers invite you to enjoy their interpretation of John Cage’s iconic experimental piece, 4’33”. A chance to reflect on the beauty of our surroundings and the ever-changing tapestry of our daily lives.
John Cage (1912-1992) was one of the leading composers of 20th century avant-garde music and is often characterized as one of the most influential composers of this time. Through his music, he wanted to create entirely new sounds and ways of understanding and listening to music, making us question the fundamentals of music itself. His general philosophy was that he did not want to build music from what was already given to him, but he wanted to create entirely new concepts and sounds. His music can be characterized very often as experimental, and perhaps at times unconventional, but undoubtedly creative and with each of his compositions he manages to think outside of the box and create something entirely new and exciting.
Likewise, 4’33” is a piece in three movements that consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, for any number of musicians and for any instruments. With this piece, John Cage wanted to (like most of his works) challenge our perception of music and what exactly we qualify as music. Throughout the performance, John Cage wants audience and performers alike to focus on the sounds that surround them and make them realize just how much is happening around us at all times and the richness of the sounds that we might refer to as simple noise. For Cage, even the sound of traffic outside his apartment was music and a sound not to be dismissed!
If you are looking to listen to more music by John Cage, some of my favourite pieces are “Living room music”, “Sonata no. 5”, “In a Landscape”, “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs”, “Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos” and “Water Walking”.
“The material of music is sound and silence. Integrating these is composing.” John Cage: Silence – Lectures and Writings
Directed and written by Constantinos Hadjiprocopiou, 7B
Christmas, for many of us, is about the memories brought back to life by music shared.
For us in the English School Community, the holidays haven’t started until the stage in the Hall is packed to the rafters with students young and old, singing their hearts out in the musical contest which is Music in the Air / Jingle Bells. Many extra notes are added, the “ha-ha-has” is always one too many, and the tenors triumph with the highest sounds as always!
Here is a (rather restrained and refined!) rendition with as many students and friends past and present as we could muster. To those who are with us in spirit, we wish you health, peace, and happiness and hope you will join in at full volume from wherever you are.
This concludes our “12 Days of Christmas at The English School” event. Congratulations to all the students who shared their music with us, and helped to make our days brighter and merrier! A special thank you to Mr Elie Salame who designed the inspiring logo and banner for our event. It really captured the essence of our community. We would also like to extend our thanks to Olga Prepis ESL 20, Stelios Sycallides ESL 20, Elena Michaelides and Monica Theodotou for all their invaluable help, Mr Avraam Avraam for his support, Eleonora Savvidou (7J) and Peppinos Skoullos for the video design and Adonis Aletras for the audio mixing.
Day 11 (part 2)
The excitement for the holiday season is growing by the minute, so today we have another set of musical interludes for you!
A one-man show on percussion instruments by our year 7 Music A level student Constantinos Hadjiprocopiou, a woodwind duet by Katerina Athanasiadou and Andreas Nicolaou, and a violin duet by Panos Milios and Iraklis Giorgallis.
Constantinos (7B) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer and today he is sharing with us his own arrangement of the aethereal melody by Tchaikovsky, “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from the famous ballet “The Nutcracker”. Constantinos is a pianist and a member of our Instrumental programme as a bassoon player with Mr Evangelos Christodoulou as his teacher. Following his debut as a timpanist at our school’s production of Handel’s Messiah last Christmas, Constantinos has discovered that he also has a passion for playing the percussion and he is now a member of the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has made arrangements for school’s ensembles many times in the past, including the wind band arrangement for the song “Thank God It’s Christmas”.
Katerina (6W) and Andreas (6W) joined the school’s instrumental programme enthusiastically six years ago and never looked back. Katerina who plays the flute and is studying with Mrs Diamando Yassemides, is also a pianist and vocalist. Andreas is an oboist studying with Ms Monica Theodotou. Both students studied Music as a GCSE and have taken part in countless concerts and events here at school, including Talent Night. Today they are performing for us two carols, ‘The First Noel’ and “Silent Night”.
Our two violinists, are sharing today a duet of Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Iraklis(4R) and Panos(4J) are both students of the GCSE music class and members of the school’s String Orchestra and the Cyprus Youth Symphony orchestra as well. They recorded this duet on the stage of our school’s hall, without an audience, unfortunately, but for next year’s Christmas concert we hope to be there and catch the live version of it!
Day 11 (Part 1)
On the eleventh day of Christmas, we share with you a song by the band Queen, which we think is very befitting of the situation this year!
“Thank God It’s Christmas”, is something we have all been thinking and feeling these past few days as we are getting closer to the holidays. We are thankful for this much-needed break, to spend time with family and loved ones, and breathe a sigh of relief for making it through this past year.
Many people have worked tirelessly to put this performance together. First of all, we would like to thank our creative and talented students who, not only they had to rehearse under circumstances never before experienced in the music world, (wearing masks while singing and playing, working only with students in the year bubble, social distancing) but also had to perform and record alone at home. Many must have thought at some point, is this the right way to make music? Is there a point of keeping the music going this year? Isn’t the point of music, performing and playing together live? What we have all realized in the process of this all, is that, yes, sharing music and experiencing the exchange that takes place between performers and audience at a live performance is one of the most rewarding experiences, but in times like these we must not lose hope and keep the arts alive. Music, art and drama is what has been keeping us connected during the lockdown and the long evenings of curfews.
We would like to thank of sponsors Astrobank, CNP Asfalistiki and CNP Cyprialife for all their support and generosity.
A big thank you to all the music ensemble directors (Evangelos Christodoulou, Nikolas Papageorgiou, Andreas Panteli, Guy Creen, Alex Panayi, Monica Theodotou), Anastasia Argyrou for drama club and the music department staff, for supporting the students, persevering and adapting to all sorts of rehearsal configurations this past term. The video would also not have been possible without the help from Adonis Aletras ESL 85 on sound mixing, and Peppinos Skoullos on video editing.
Let’s all count our blessings, make long lists of things we are thankful and grateful for and look ahead in the future with positivity, along with some joyful music to accompany us!
On the tenth day of Christmas, we have performances by two of our favourite school duos!
The ‘2 Cellos’ are back with their arrangements of three festive tunes “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, “Walking In the Air” and “Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle”. Eleonora Savvidou (7J) and Sophia Kleopa (2B), are sisters at heart, who share a strong love for music, and the cello, of course! Both cellists are members of the school’s String Orchestra and the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. Eleonora is currently studying A level Music and will continue her Music studies next year abroad. We do urge you to pay attention to the details in their video, including a mischievous Nutcracker, who took on the Covid guidelines about mask-wearing, a little too seriously!
Andreas Marcou (6W) and Alexia Demetriou (6G) have been long-lasting and devoted members of the school’s choir and drama club and have performed together at Talent Night and Grease 2020. Both students studied GCSE Music and Drama at school. Andreas is also a pianist and a member of the A level Music class. Together they are performing a charming and socially distanced version of the duet “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, the famous song that won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
On the ninth day of Christmas, we have a short recital prepared for you by three of our Lower School students!
Our emerging musicians are very excited to share with you their favourite Christmas songs.
Eleana Iacovou (1G), who is a member of our Wind band, is playing for us on the saxophone the timeless carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.
Christos Stasis (2W), a student of our Instrumental Programme is performing on the classical guitar “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, accompanied by his teacher Mr Renos Efstathiou.
And to close this short recital, Christos Michael (1G) who is also a student of the Instrumental Programme as a saxophone player, he is performing on piano two of the most beloved melodies, “Silent Night” and ‘White Christmas”.
Let their music accompany you on this last Sunday before the holidays, and support our students by sharing their music with friends and family!
On the eighth day of Christmas Eric Tchalikian (6J) and Jayden Maroun (2R) are sharing their music with us.
Not all Christmas songs are cheerful, as Eric’s choice of the song clearly shows. The melancholic song ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ was written by bluesman Charles Brown in 1960, and has been recorded by many famous artists since then, including James Brown, BB King and The Eagles. Eric is an enthusiastic guitarist, vocalist and songwriter with many performances at school events, including Talent Night and Grease 2020. Whether you have the blues this Christmas or not, we hope Eric’s interpretation will move you.
One can only be mesmerized when they hear Jayden play the piano. His virtuosic and expressive playing has won him many awards at competitions, and he has participated in prestigious festivals abroad. The young student had been invited by the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra this Christmas, to perform as a soloist but unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the concert had to be cancelled. We have the pleasure, though, to listen to the piece Jayden was planning to perform as part of our online event. The piece is an arrangement for solo piano of two Christmas Carols, “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Imagine yourself at the concert hall and enjoy the performance!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Fivos Loucaides (4Y) and George Polycarpou (4W) are both sharing their own soulful interpretations of the emotional song ‘White Christmas’.
Fivos and George are students of the GCSE music class, members of the Senior Choir and active performers at school events.
And just like the song says, we are all dreaming of having Christmas this year like the ones we used to know.
Turn on your Christmas lights, enjoy the performances, and who knows, maybe our wishes will come true, and we will get a White Christmas after all surrounded by loved ones!
On the fifth day of Christmas we have not just one, but two performances by talented Year 3 students.
Asli Toros (3W) is sharing with us her interpretation of the Christmas hit song ‘Santa Tell Me’. Asli has been playing the piano from a young age, but singing has always been a priority for her. This year her determination and hard work landed her a much-coveted spot at the school’s Talent Night.
Ara Mahdessian (3W) entered the world of music at the age of 10 and never looked back! Since then, classical music has become a great passion of his, and he has taken part in piano competitions and masterclasses abroad. Ara is also a composer, and we are looking forward to sharing some of his compositions shortly. Today he is sharing with our arrangements of four Christmas songs including ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’.
On the fourth day of Christmas, brothers Ioannis (6B) and Joseph Skordis (2Y), are sharing with us three traditional Christmas Carols arranged for two violins: ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’,’ Angels We Have Heard on High’ and ‘The First Noel’.
Ioannis and Joseph are never too busy to devote time to the music. Both students are members of the school’s String Ensemble and Choir, and also members of the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra. We hope the beautiful melodies and harmonies of these three duets brighten your day!
On the third day of Christmas our Contemporary Band, or the ‘Jazzy Jammers‘ as we call them, are sharing with us their smooth jazzy version of ‘White Christmas’.
The five students have been playing together as a band since Year 4. Andreas Ioannou (5W), Ioannis Papazacharias (5G) and Aristotelis Christoforides (5B) are members of the GCSE Music class. Panayiotis Hadjicostis (5G) is a member of the wind band as a clarinettist and George Nicolaou (5G) a member of the choir. Rehearsing and performing music as a group has been challenging this year due to all protocols and restrictions. Still, with the proper measures in effect and their own perseverance, they have been able to record this song. We hope to see them perform live again on our Hall’s stage soon!
On the second day of Christmas, Odysseas Pantazis is sharing with us his interpretation of ‘Carol of the Bells’ in a slightly different version of the one we are used to!
Odysseas, a skillful guitar player and a member of the Music A-Level class, also enjoys composing music. You can listen to one of his compositions on the school’s 2021 calendar which is available to purchase at school or online. Turn the volume way up on your devices and enjoy the music!
On the first day of Christmas, Peiqi Song is sharing with us his piano version of the beloved song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
Peiqi is a Year 1 (1B) student who loves spending time either playing the piano or listening to piano music.
Grab your microphones (or pretend your hairbrush is one!) and sing along to Peiqi’s music to get into the holiday spirit!