Claremont Fan Court School

Former staff, 2000 - 2019

Chris Sage

Chris was the Music School's administrator for nineteen years. Chris recounts memories of Rockfest and when the school community unified for a vigil on the tragic day of the 9/11 attacks:

“Sometimes personal memories are defined by events that occur in another part of the world.  Such is the case for this very poignant memory.

It was a sunny afternoon on Tuesday 11 September 2001.  The Music School was quiet as lessons were underway.  Suddenly, the silence was broken by a sixth former rushing into the department to announce breathlessly that an aeroplane had crashed into one of the World Trade twin towers in New York.  One’s first thought was that it was a tragic accident.  However, when this was followed later by another sixth former rushing in announcing that the second tower had also been hit, one realised in that defining moment that this was not just an awful accident – this was an act of terror, and one’s blood ran cold.  The internet in those days was very clunky and with so many people trying to find out what was happening it was impossible to access any information in real time.

The following day, everyone was in shock and very subdued and Mrs Alanko suggested that we hold a vigil in the library at lunchtime to which anyone was welcome to attend.  Needless to say, the library was packed with students of all ages, some holding onto each other for comfort, and also members of staff from across the school.  A candle was lit and we all sat in respectful silence, deep in our own thoughts and prayers, whilst Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio was playing quietly in the background.

It was a very moving moment in time which saw the whole school community draw closely together in sympathy with all those people who had so tragically been killed or injured or personally affected by these dreadful events.

Who could forget ROCKFEST – the annual rock music event organised by the Music School!! The JGC (and probably most of Esher too!) would vibrate to the sounds of aspiring rock bands and soloists from across the senior school as they entertained their fellow classmates who danced enthusiastically to the music in their own mosh pit, surrounded by candle-lit tables at which parents sat.  J-P’s special lighting effects helped enhance the atmosphere and in the dining area, a snack bar, run by the PTA or students, would supply much needed refreshments!

There was always a last-minute rush to buy tickets before they sold out and in the days leading up to the event a long queue would form outside the music school office at break time.  Lunchtimes in the department in the build-up to the day were also frenetic as rock bands rehearsed, and competition to book the limited number of practice rooms could sometimes be quite fierce!

It was wonderful to witness the emerging talent of these bands and soloists and there was much to be said for the obvious enjoyment and satisfaction that all students got from participating in such an event.”