28 June 2019

A pre-tour concert, some 36 hours before setting off for Tokyo, gave the First Orchestra and Big Band an opportunity of a play-through of their tour repertoire in front of a large audience of families and supporters. It also gave the organisers an opportunity to ensure that the touring party had all the required kit ready for an early departure on Sunday morning.

The concert was preceded by a garden party in Lacies Court hosted by the Headmaster. This was attended by some 250 guests – parents, OAs, staff, governors – and the intermediate jazz ensemble was engaged to offer some light background music for the occasion. The lovely sunny evening gave us a perfect opportunity to thank the many people who have made such an ambitious tour a possibility.

The concert started with the fanfare that begins Lane’s London Salute, followed by Elgar’s moving Nimrod from the Enigma Variations. The main item was Beethoven’s mighty 3rd Piano Concerto with different soloists in each movement – Alvin Tam, David Bicarregui and Ashwin Tennant, each of whom proved to be in sparkling form.

After the interval, the orchestra explored a more romantic mood with Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto (1st movement) with soloist, Didier Delgorge, giving a performance of great fluency and intensity. 

With the piano shifted back, the Big Band played a set of six numbers, starting with Tequila, which saw the boys walking on from the wings and engaging with the audience, section by section. Other tunes included Cold Duck Time (Harris), Tank (Kanno), Backlash (Pickett), Watermelon Man (Herbie Hancock) and The Chicken (Ellis). Quite a few solos showed how this young band has progressed from earlier in the year.

The orchestra came back on with Thunderbirds (Gray), Vaughan Williams’ English Folksong Suite, A Medley for Orchestra (Burt Bacharach), Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 and the Main Title from The Big Country (Moross).

Thanks were recorded at the end to the many people who have supported us, without whose encouragement and help this tour would not have been possible. There was tangible excitement in the air as performers and audience alike disappeared into the balmy night.  

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