Hudson Park High School recently took part in the 2023 Port Rex Lion Eisteddfod, under the direction of teachers Wesley Wong, Lisa Wong, Hayley White, Sibongile Ponase and Nasine van Rensburg.
Overall, Hudson High achieved three bronze (60-69%), 22 silver (70-79%), 21 gold (80-89%) and seven special mention (90-100%) awards. They also took home medals in the following categories:
- Most promising senior pianist: Matthew Muller
- Most promising senior brass instrumentalist: Jamie Goodall
- Best senior instrumentalist: Lutho Xokiyana
- Best high school chamber ensemble: HPHS Flute Ensemble
- Best high school band/ orchestra: HPHS Concert Band
The Go!&Express chatted to Wesley Wong about their excellent performance.
Firstly, what do you do?
I’m cultural pillar head at Hudson Park High and head of music. I teach the brass instruments and conduct the concert band; and Hayley White – I teach piano and flute and provide all the piano accompaniments.
Congrats, Hudson High on the great eisteddfod results — what do the medals and results mean to the school and especially to the music department?
Thank you. The results are a great reward for all the work that went into preparing our musicians. We take great pride in having a vibrantly active music department at Hudson Park and it is wonderful to see our pupils doing well.
How much preparation went into getting the musicians and ensemble members ready for this year’s eisteddfod and what did this preparation cover?
I think that the preparation goes a lot further than just preparing certain items for the actual eisteddfod. We have about 90 pupils who take music at Hudson Park from grade 8 to 12 and all of them do more than just focus on their individual instrument.
They are all involved in ensembles, bands or choirs.
We have regular performance opportunities for them, such as weekly break time concerts in our Gibson Kente Theatre, visits to old age homes, and so on.
All of this, in addition to individual lessons from our five well-qualified music teachers, went a long way to preparing our musicians for the eisteddfod.
The disciplined daily practicing was up to each child.
What were the most challenging parts, in your opinion, of this year’s eisteddfod?
Making sure all individual and group items were ready in time and finding the time in everyone’s busy schedules to rehearse additional ensemble items. There are also always one or two individuals who leave their preparation to the last minute (which generally does not work in music) and give their teachers grey hairs!
When you reflect back on the pupils’ performances, what are some of your favourite moments from this year’s eisteddfod?
The final Friday afternoon when the instrumental medals were announced was a highlight, as well as the band evening.
It means a great deal to the children when their hard work is rewarded. But it was also really lovely interacting with colleagues from other schools, having not had a “live” eisteddfod for the past couple of years, it was lovely to mingle again. There was a feeling of all being in this together rather than “us against them”.
Given that Hudson High won best band/orchestra, best ensemble and best senior instrumentalist, what do you think are aspects of music education that the HPHS music department is doing right?
We have five full-time, dedicated music teachers who all work well as a team. I think that the numerous performance opportunities our learners have make them used to performing.
Our music department is in an old double-storey house called Williams House, and our music pupils just love being there and “jamming” together and spending time with like-minded teens. This all creates a really positive atmosphere and nurtures a passion for music.
What are some other goals HPHS music department hopes to achieve this year?
Some of our individual pupils have goals such as entering external music exams, which we are helping them to achieve. But other than that we want to continue doing what we are doing, nurturing a passion for music. We have a few performances lined up next term and will also be preparing our pupils for their music exams at the end of the year.