Claremont Fan Court School

Former staff, 2007 - 2023

Alexis Affonso

Interviewed for the 2023 annual Alumni Review, Alexis recounted his favourite moments of working at the school and shared his plans for life after Claremont:

“What has been your career highlight here at Claremont Fan Court School?

Teaching and coaching children who are now performing in the Westend and who have gone on to musical careers.

The chance to work in a historic site like Claremont is a unique opportunity, what is a quirk you will remember the most?

When the roof of the Music School took flight on Boxing day several years ago. It literally flew off into a tree opposite! I visited school on Boxing Day to secure the contents of the music school!

Any memorable moments?

Summer Meeting several years ago, (Gordon Hunt, chair of governors, and Jonathan Insall Reid, Headmaster) I was poised on the keyboard to play the School song for the assembled school and their parents/friends  at the back of the Mansion.

From my position facing the Portsmouth Road I could see some rather black and ominous clouds in the distance, looking like a storm was heading this way. Through the brief instrumental pieces which previewed the massed singing, I noticed these clouds getting closer by degrees, on striking the first chord of the School song the heavens opened and the rain bucketed down for all of a long minute, but enough to soak everyone thoroughly!! JP Christian rushed down the Mansion steps and kindly held an umbrella above me so that I could carry on playing without floating away ! Post this experience, and my wondering how I wasn’t electrocuted on a keyboard, I then had to hang the music and myself out to dry.

Another memorable story from a Summer Meeting was when completed directing the music before the speeches, and having heard the speeches, I then legged it down to the JGC where I had to direct various musical and dramatical items in a concert for guests. As I swing around the front of the Mansion, Mrs. Holland, in charge of music in the pre prep school, has her choir lined up on the Mansion steps, to sing a Disney medley. I am in academic dress, gown, hood and carrying a baton to conduct with. Two children from the pre prep shout out “there goes Harry Potter !” They clearly thought I was a magician with a wand!

What will you miss the most about working here at Claremont?

The fabulous landscape of trees and grassland throughout the seasons which cultivate a feeling of calm.

You have directed music in countless drama productions, concerts and services here at Claremont. What are your most memorable?

“Salad Days”, the band is on stage, the tabs are closed and someone activates the smoke machine, leaving the band in the “Fog” and almost gassed!

“The King and I”, end of the first chorus, when the sound technician who forgot to mute the stage mikes at the end of the song. The audience heard the cast leave the stage with a few “blue comments” on departure.

“Return to the forbidden planet”, when the band were above the stage on a scaffolded stage, 1.5 metres from the stage lights. Every time the lights  came on we were grilled!

“A Midsummer Nights’ Dream”, one of the visiting audience members fell to sleep and fell off their chair during the performance.

What are you most looking forward to doing next?

Lots of travel and performing plans in place for 2024 onwards. Completing a PhD thesis I started 34 years ago as a mature student at Oxford University. Continuing to teach piano to advanced students. Enjoying good health.”