1 February 2018
This year’s New Year Charity Concert took place a little later than in previous years and was intended 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 all four bands, a Jazz ensemble, the entire Second Year in a choir and our two orchestras in a wide range of music.
The second year boys were first on stage with a very well-chosen song, Havana, full of attractive Cuban rhythms and harmonies. The 60 boys, trained and accompanied by John Cotton, were enjoyably engaged in their singing, which was performed without a director. Lower School Band followed with The Adams Family and Oh When the Saints.
Brass Band was next on and in great form with that most evocative march, The Great Escape. Symphonic Wind Band then brought the first half to a tuneful conclusion with Highlights from Oklahoma, clearly enjoyed by all the players, learned in just a few weeks and fortified this term with an even stronger trombone section.
After the interval, the 5th Year Jazz Ensemble delighted the audience with their number, Roy Hargrove’s Strasbourg St Denis, a lovely performance and something of a warm-up act for the Big Band who were next on with their set of three numbers. Tequila involved some enjoyable audience participation, Train Shuffle replaced the intended Cold Duck Time and they finished with Rock Around the Clock, always a winning opportunity for solos from the younger players in the band.
Second Orchestra had learned two new pieces since Christmas and the decision to give them a spot in the concert proved to be fully justified. They started with Verdi’s Melodies from Rigoletto and concluded with March from Carmen. We have a particularly hard working and ambitious orchestra and they fully deserved the warm applause that they received.
First Orchestra brought the concert to a conclusion with Malcolm Arnold’s Little Suite No 2, full of exciting rhythms and clever antiphonal textures. The final movement gave a fantastic platform for our percussionists, Rob MacLennan, Ernest Chu and Alfie Morley. The final piece was the Thunderbirds March, a favourite with the players and one intended for the tour to Japan in 2019.
The benefiting charity this time was Home Start Oxford, which offers support to local families who are facing particular challenges. Our thanks go to the boys and their dedicated teachers for another fine concert.