28 Janaury 2019

The Japan/Hong Kong Tour Benefit Concert replaced the usual annual New Year Concert and was devised to give us a platform for raising both awareness and funds for our exciting summer tour with First Orchestra and Big Band. An ambitious tour such as this, with some 70 boys and accompanying staff, requires particularly careful planning and significant efforts to raise sufficient funds to mitigate some of the expenses, such as instrument and venue hire, and group activities, enabling it to be more affordable to parents.

With this in mind, there was a Silent Auction of Promises held before, during and after the concert, with lots kindly donated by generous parents and friends of the school and this, together with the revenue from concert ticket sales, generated nearly £4,500. The lots included restaurant dinners, Escape Room experiences, theatre and concert tickets, a day’s deerstalking in the Cotswolds and a weekend in London.

There were some 200 boys involved in the concert and the items included three orchestras, three bands, two jazz ensembles and the entire Second Year in a choir in a wide range of music.

The Second Year Choir, directed by Adam Treadaway, were first on stage with two very well-chosen songs, A la Cart (a clever and hilarious take on Mozart melodies, complete with part singing) and Say Something, from A Great Big World. It was good to see the 60 boys so enjoyably engaged in their singing.

The two Jazz ensembles, first the 3rd years, then the seniors, both delighted the audience with some lovely improvisation in Contemplation, Five Spot After Dark and Fly Me to the Moon. The Chamber Orchestra under Mariette Pringle’s committed direction played Karl Jenkins’ most effective Palladio and Lower School Band closed the first half with the Mickey Mouse Theme, which they evidently enjoyed hugely!

Second Orchestra got the second half of the concert underway with a new programme learned this term over just three rehearsals and with an encouraging cluster of new recruits who swelled the ranks of the violins. They chose a medley of tunes from Gounod’s opera, Faust, followed by an arrangement of the Hymn of Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Brass Band was in fine form in Three Renaissance Dances by Claude Gervaise, followed by that classic and stirring march, Slaidburn. Not to be outdone, though, Big Band treated us to their latest number, Backlash, by Freddie Hubbard, followed by what Simon Currie described as a “banker” – Tequila – with its Latin rhythms and much enjoyed audience participation.

Before we heard First Orchestra, the Headmaster, Mr Windsor, nobly stepped up to inform the audience of the latest state of the bidding and also took the opportunity to auction a magnum of champagne, kindly donated by a parent. Although he placed the opening bid we were glad that he was not successful as it might have tempted him to veer away from his New Year Resolution for a dry January!

First Orchestra brought the concert to a conclusion with Paul Lane’s London Salute, full of exciting rhythms and clever antiphonal textures, a Burt Bacharach Medley and Vaughan Williams’ English Folksong Suite, all works that we intend to take with us on tour.

We wish to record our sincere gratitude to all the parents, colleagues, friends and local businesses who kindly offered such generous auction lots, to those that made bids, whether successful or not – and to others who could not be with us, but have made generous donations to support our efforts to make this tour happen. Thank you!

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