Rock On! – Contemporary Music

Patrick M (10), Chief Contributor

Contemporary Music is a somewhat new co-curricular segment at William Clarke, run by Mr Cavenagh and the music faculty. In the words of Mr Cavenagh, “Contemporary Music Ensembles are made up of smaller groups and are designed for students to explore their instrument further while playing with friends. Students have the opportunity to play genres that include (but are not limited to) Rock, Pop, Jazz and Funk. Each year students perform regularly at ‘The Gig’, Showcase events, Concerts and Battle of the Bands.” 

In Week 6 of this term, every Contemporary Ensemble performed a setlist of 3-4 songs that they had been preparing throughout the year. We started the night with the Year 7 and 8 band, with a setlist full of classics such as Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ (shoutout to Aiden L in Year 7 for his iconic guitar solo). Following up this performance was a decade-spanning setlist from Andrew, Isaac, Kai, and Jack in Year 9, performing pieces from the Foo Fighters, The Police, and Vampire Weekend. After rocking The Space down, Audrey, Sab, Lachlan, and myself in Year 10 brought an R and B focused vibe in with tracks from Frank Ocean, Thundercat and Aurora. This would be the calm before the storm, as Ash, Tom, Jed (Year 9), and Terry (Year 12) gave emotional performances of ‘R U Mine’ by Arctic Monkeys, ‘Bad Romance’ by Halestorm, and ‘Still into You’ by Paramore. Tom, Jed, and Terry proved with this performance how impactful a vocal performance can be when it is supported by a solid band. To close the night, Lachlan and I would return to the stage, this time with Angus (Year 10) and Daniel (Year 9) with a controversial setlist… 

Our setlist began with a bombastic performance of ‘Purple Rain’ by Jimi Hendrix, followed by Angus’ very own song, ‘Bleeding’ (Spotify Link). Following this, we performed both ‘Stop This Train’ by John Mayer, and ‘Red’ by Taylor Swift. This became quite controversial, with many listeners intrigued by our picks. This included none other than the Head of Secondary himself, Mr Clarke, as he told us after the performance. It turns out, he is somewhat of a Taylor fan himself! These two songs saw the conclusion of the night; however it was only the beginning for Contemporary Music events this term.  

Another exciting opportunity that we had was “The Dave Holmes Experience”. This was an opportunity run by Mr Holmes, a guitar tutor at the college, along with a group of professional musicians. All Contemporary Music students were able to watch this band perform songs such as ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock, and ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson. Between songs, the band opened for questions, and we gained valuable knowledge from these experienced players. 

But that’s not all! This Thursday Lunch, the 1st of December, each Contemporary Band has selected a single song to perform in the amphitheater for Battle of the Bands, and everybody is welcome to attend. At the end, a winner will be selected, but we will just have to wait and see who this may be… feel free to come along and have a listen! 

Despite this being the last event for Contemporary Music this year, the program continues to grow, and students are open to talk to the music staff about starting a band themselves!