12 February 2021

Our second streamed concert of the term, comprised 11 home-recorded solo performances by sixth form pupils. We are immensely grateful to these students for their willingness to share their performances with us – and to several teachers who put together piano accompaniments for the boys to use as “backing tracks”. In this way, we were able to enjoy a kind of remote duet between teacher and pupil – in one case linking between Hong Kong and a village near Faringdon. What better symbol could there be of reaching out for creativity and mutual support during a period of lockdown?

It was particularly pleasing that we were able to enjoy a range of instruments that covered all instrumental disciplines – woodwind, brass, piano, strings and voice – in a concert that lasted just under 45 minutes.

By way of an opening brass fanfare we started with Cameron Gouldstone, playing the slow movement of Haydn’s famous Trumpet concerto in Eb, a fascinating work that the A level musicians have been studying recently. We learned that Haydn wrote the concerto for his good friend, the Viennese court trumpeter, Anton Weidinger, who had recently devised an “organised” (keyed) trumpet that could play chromatically. Though composed in 1796, Weidinger didn’t premiere the concerto until 1800, no doubt because it took him a while to learn the fingering required to play fluently…! Of course, this prototype instrument didn’t last long – Cameron’s excellent playing is on the modern valve trumpet that came into use just a few years later.

Our singer this evening was one of our Heads of School, Andreas Lo, singing a Tchaikovsky love song At the Ball, one of two performances in which he linked up with his piano teacher and accompanist, our Head of Piano, Lynette Stulting. Matthew Hoult (clarinet) was also able to benefit from Lynette’s accompaniment in Krommer’s Clarinet Concerto. Here we also have Nick Lloyd, our Theatre Manager, to thank for skilfully syncing and balancing the piano accompaniment with Matthew’s lovely playing.

String players included Andreas Lo, again, this time playing a traditional Japanese unaccompanied violin melody, Sakura, arranged by the Japanese composer, Kaneko Millar. Jamie Robson (violin) performed Bardel’s Por una Cabeza, Hugo Payton (cello) played an arrangement of the Montagues and Capulets, music from Prokofiev’s ballet, Romeo and Juliet, whilst Ashwin Tennant (violin) played us a virtuosic unaccompanied étude by Pierre Gaviniès, an 18th century violinist-composer.

We heard four piano performances given by Benjamin Shaw (Beethoven), Luc Tucker (Debussy) and Andreas Lo in the sublime Shostakovich 2nd Piano Concerto, slow movement. The last word went to Nick Raptakis, playing from memory, in Rachmaninov’s brooding C sharp minor Prelude – our special thanks to Nick’s in-house cameraman who realised several deft changes between camera angles! The concert is available here on YouTube.

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