20 January 2017

This year’s New Year Charity Concert took place just eight days into term and so had been planned in December to offer a different emphasis to the music offered at the Christmas Concerts. There were some 200 boys involved in the concert and the items included three bands, two choirs and two orchestras in a wide range of music.

The entire Second Year was first on stage with two songs from The Jungle Book – I Wanna Be Like You and The Bare Necessities. The 60 boys, under the direction of Dr Jason Preece, were clearly enjoying the songs. Next, and not to be outdone, Lower School Band, under the direction of Nigel Somerville, gave their own version of the James Bond theme in their conductor’s own arrangement.

Brass Band was next on with an even crisper version of the march, Slaidburn, than they achieved in the Christmas concerts. Nothing can beat the sound of a brass band going full tilt in this kind of repertoire. Then we had another version of James Bond, this time with all the effects that a mature band can exercise. Big Band, again under Andy Townsend’s direction was next on with three numbers, the Latin tune, Oye Come Var, Peter Gunn and Cold Duck Time.

After the interval, the close harmony ensemble, Abingdon Academicals, under the direction of Ben Ponniah, sang three very effective numbers – the laid-back Graceful and Easy, My Evaline and Yesterday. The group was nicely together, beautifully in tune and clearly, carefully rehearsed.

Chamber Orchestra introduced a more serious note, but a thoroughly enjoyable one, with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos, featuring soloists, Alex Reynolds and Carl Olavesen. As always, the ensemble and tuning were impressive and the playing was spirited and effective. Finally, it was left to First Orchestra to bring the concert to a close with the first movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, a work which features in the imminent orchestral tour over half term to Germany to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the School’s exchange programme with the Bielefeld Ratsgymnasium.

The benefiting charity this time was The Project Trust, which arranges Gap Year teaching by British students in under-privileged parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America. Our thanks go to the boys and their dedicated teachers for another fine concert.

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