Spring is in the air!

Article by Year 14 student

The concert band’s triumphant introduction to the school song on Thursday evening in the Clarke Hall heralded the beginning of our annual spring concert. A few minutes elapsed whilst the audience regained its composure and settled down. After all, it requires much energy and gusto to do justice to the efforts of Miss Patton and Dr Emery.

Proceedings continued with a performance by the concert band of Vaughan-Williams’ Fantasia on a the

me of Thomas Tallis, the basis for which in fact dates back to 1567. The remainder of the band’s input consisted of music from two famous films, firstly The Great Escape and later a selection of music from Toy Story 2, in which, Mr Rea told the audience, he had found his favourite melody of the year.

The Spring Concert has traditionally been an event where solo musicians have the opportunity to showcase their work and this year was no exception. Trumpeter, Andrew Bradley (year 14) had the unenviable task of playing first but did so with great poise. Sometime later, deputy head boy, William McKeown dazzled the audience with the second movement of an oboe concerto by Mozart, making light work of a very difficult cadenza at the close of the piece. In addition, two

members of year 12 each performed a solo piece. James Bailie sang a contemporary Max Bemis song, accompanying himself on the guitar, after which David Gibson gave a masterful performance of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C sharp Minor, the highlight of the evening for many audience members, not least because of the fine grand piano hired for the occasion.

The choir’s first opportunity to perform arrived at the close of the first half. A chamber orchestra, comprising strings and light woodwind, accompanied the singing of the famous coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest by Handel, whose setting of this text has been sung at every

Coronation in Westminster Abbey since that of George II in 1727. This piece was a fitting choice for our concert programme as this year marks the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. In the second half, Mr Rea ascended the podium to conduct an arrangement for choir of the popular song Good Vibrations, at the end of which he assumed his position at the piano to play the introduction to Philip Kennedy’s setting of King of Glory, King of Peace, composed especially for the concert where it received its first performance.

The junior school was also well represented on Thursday evening. Andrew Poxon (year 9) was a soloist,

followed by a band of year 10 pupils, named ‘The Wednesday Club’ who performed an instrumental version of the song Sunshine of your Love. The junior orchestra, under the direction this year of Mr Rea and accompanied by David Gibson (year 12) played two pieces.

It was somewhat by coincidence that several pieces in the programme had origins in Irish traditional

music. Courtney McMullan and Daniel Warwick (year 14) played an arrangement of The Minstrel Boy and Philip Kennedy (year 14) sang a setting of W. B. Yeats’ poem Down by the Salley Gardens, set to music not by Herbert Hughes, whose version is most commonly heard on the concert platform, rather by Ivor Gurney. A group of boys led by Mark Byers (year 12) performed Donal Lunny’s April the 3rd, a set work on the GCSE music syllabus.

This account would not be complete without mentioning the two items performed solely by members of the year fourteen; the first by a band led by the head boy, Ben Robinson, who played a song by the Kings of Leon which was a resounding success. However, the tour de force came right at the end of the evening when the sixty-strong Year 14 Choral Society took to the stage to give its inaugural performance. The society’s remit had been to bring a previously unseen level of decorum to the concert programme and members felt that the best way to accomplish this

ideal was to select the ‘traditional’ Swedish song, Dansende Drottning, translated into English as Dancing Queen; no prizes for guessing who had a hit with that song! The mastermind behind the choreography was Chris Graham. This performance will, hopefully, be remembered for a long time to come.
Drawing to a close, this year’s concert contained a more musically challenging programme than has been seen previously and it surpassed all expectations. Any comments from audience members were very complimentary. Thanks are due to both Mr Rea and to Miss Evans of the Music Department for all their hard work in turning preparation into performance.