13 December 2022

The Christmas Concerts, on Wednesday and Friday evenings last week, represent the culmination of the term’s rehearsals for the school’s bands, orchestras, and choirs. The hard work, effort and sheer delight in music-making was clear across the entirety of the concert. The curtain opened upon the First Year Choir, directed by Alex Fox, who gave a joyous performance of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Shoulda Been a North Pole Elf’, accompanied by a student jazz band and complete with actions from the choir. The sense of joy in the choir and band was palpable from the outset and it was lovely to have such a festive opening to the Christmas Concert

The Chamber Orchestra, led by Mr Stinton, followed with four movements from Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite before Concert Band, under the baton of Mr Townsend, played a March and Intermezzo from Gordon Jacob’s Original Suite and a festive arrangement of several carols by Leroy Anderson. The dance-like nature of the Capriol Suite was aptly captured throughout the performance and the Concert Band maintained the festive tone of the concert. The first half of the concert culminated with Big Band, directed by Simon Currie on Wednesday and Mr Fox on Friday. The enthusiasm amongst the band was palpable and there were some assured solos from Josef O’Connor, Lachlan Keene, Rudolph Flossmann, and Winston Wong. It was a rousing way to close the first half of the concert.

After a short interval, Gospel Choir opened the second half with performances of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and ‘Running Up That Hill’. As always, it was clear that the choir were really enjoying themselves and the backing of the staff band, (featuring Mr Fox, Mr Barnes, Mr Owen and Mr Windsor) really allowed the choir to sing out confidently. Second Orchestra, led by Mr Stinton, followed with confident performances on the Dvorak ‘Slavonic Dance in minor’, the Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffman by Offenbach and ‘Vltava’ from Ma Vlast by Smetana. There was clearly a lot of promise in this orchestra and…

The highlight of the concert by far was Walter Liu’s performance of the first movement of Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto in Bb Major with First Orchestra. Walter’s performance was confident, assured and sensitively treated. The performance was outstanding and it is clear that Walter has worked incredibly hard on this and had been well-supported by his teacher, Lynette Stulting. First Orchestra, under the baton of Mr Stinton, ably complemented Walter’s playing and really allowed him to shine through. The Beethoven was followed by a performance of the first movement of Schubert’s 8th Symphony. The piece opens with a dark, ominous tune in the cellos and basses before giving way to more lyrical writing in the oboe (deftly handled by Joshua Price).  There is much dramatic writing in the middle of the movement which gave the strings and brass a chance to show off their chops. First Orchestra handled this challenging piece well and we look forward to hearing more to this as the orchestra tours this piece, amongst others, on its tour to France and Belgium in the summer.

The concert closed with a Community Carol, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, sung by all present and accompanied by First Orchestra. It was a much appreciated opportunity for some hearty from those present and was a lovely way to close the concert. Our thanks must go to all the pupils and their teachers for their hard work in preparing such a range of high-calibre performances.

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