24 May 2019

Our Summer Concert this year was scheduled just before half term, allowing us to focus in the second half on our preparations for the orchestral tour to Japan and Hong Kong, including our rehearsal day and our pre-tour concert.

The first half started with the Chamber Orchestra, directed by Dr Preece in Mrs Pringle’s absence. They played two pieces from Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony – Playful Pizzicato and Frolicsome Finale.

The Second Orchestra were next on, unusually, with first year pupil, Arthur Robertson at the helm in his conducting debut with Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy from the 9th Symphony. He did tremendously well, with a clear start, an excellent choice of tempo and a confident ending. Next came melodies from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 5, clearly firm favourites with the boys, who played with great enthusiasm.

First Orchestra concluded the first half. First on was Oliver Breach as soloist in the first movement of Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto, the piece he would have played on the Far East Tour had not the difficult decision been made to represent GB at the International Physics Olympiad in Israel, which unfortunately fell at the same time. Ollie played with his customary calm assurance and impressive virtuosity in a hugely successful performance of this great work. The final work was the exciting march form Thunderbirds, another piece destined for the Far East Tour and, apparently, a great favourite with our Japanese audiences.

After the interval, it was the bands that were centre stage – first the jazz ensembles. The seniors played Charles Mingus’ Nostalgia in Times Square and the juniors Lou Donaldson’s Midnight Creeper. The Brass Band played two numbers – Ashokan Farewell and the March, Slaidburn by William Rimmer. First Year Lachlan Keene’s trumpet solo was tremendously strong and moving. Symphonic Wind Band played Coldplay on Stage and Maiden Voyage from The Ship Builders’ Suite by Peter Yorke, both showing the band to be in fine form.

The finale belonged to Big Band under the leadership tonight of Andy Townsend in Simon Currie’s absence. We heard two of the pieces that the band will be playing on the summer tour – Yoko Kanno’s Tank and Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man – which included some fantastic solos from the members, notably saxophonist, Chanka Pathinayake.

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