10 December 2018

This year’s Christmas concerts took place over two evenings in the School’s Amey Theatre, and were devised to give nine of the School’s choirs, bands and orchestras a platform to share and celebrate their work this term.

Our 66 first year boys started proceedings under the direction of our new Chapel Choir Director, Adam Treadaway, with two songs, Believe by Lynne Marsh and Angel’s Carol by John Rutter. The young musicians delighted the audience with some superb and courageous singing, sometimes in two parts and with some very effective antiphonal effects.

Our joint Chamber Choir with St Helen’s School came on next with Duruflé’s lovely setting of Ubi Caritas followed by an arrangement of the more seasonal Winter Wonderland. This was subtly directed, beautifully balanced and with a great sense of ensemble

Gospel Choir, stronger than ever in number, were next on stage under Helen Wenham’s direction with Sinner man and Gonna Build a Mountain. As ever, we were struck by the exuberant sense of enjoyment and self confidence that this ensemble generates.

Our Chamber Orchestra, under Mariette Pringle’s direction, chose Bach’s wonderful Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in G, a demanding work but very successfully executed with an especially strong ensemble of fine players, all of whom had an opportunity to shine in this contrapuntal tour de force.

Big Band brought the first half to an end with two numbers – the first, the ever-popular Tequila, complete with audience participation and the second the ambitious Tank by a Japanese composer, Yoko Kanno, a piece that is very popular in Japan and hugely demanding with solos and extended syncopation.

After the interval, Andy Townsend’s Brass Band played two works. The first was music from Apollo 13 by the acclaimed Hollywood composer, James Horner. Particularly effective in this eerie depiction of outer space were the superb trumpet solos by sectional principal Jake de Jongh and his team.

The Song of the Blacksmith from Holst’s Suite for Band was a suitably contrasting complement with it’s exciting syncopated sonic hammer blows.

Our orchestras closed the concert this year. Second Orchestra were in fine form in Verdi’s March from Aida, a challenging work-out for the trumpet section, followed by Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in D minor.

First Orchestra’s offering included Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 with Didier Delgorge our hugely impressive, virtuosic soloist – this is a work that we hope to take on our tour to the Far East in July.

Finally, we heard Elgar’s at times exciting and noble Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, a work that gives great opportunities for all sections of the orchestra. Everyone enjoyed the final moment – a congregational performance of the carol, Unto Us is Born a Son.

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