Monday, April 6, 2015

Review of the Lent Term 2015

There has been a great deal going on in the Music Department this term as always. Throughout the term we have held our annual Music Competition with five heats producing the twenty performers in the final on March 18. The winners, chosen by Ralph Allwood MBE, were Thomas Fetherstonhaugh (Senior) and Luke Warren (Junior). 

Congratulations to the more than 100 pupils who took part this year. Thanks are owed to Mr Evans who accompanied throughout so very beautifully.

In February the School undertook its annual partnership work with Southbank Sinfonia. This year’s work was Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and the concert given at St John’s, Waterloo saw our thirty five most advanced instrumentalists sat alongside their professional counterparts in a really most accomplished performance of this complex music, conducted by David Corkhill.

The Big Band worked hard to prepare ‘An Evening with Frank Sinatra’ which was held early in March to a large and appreciative audience in the New Hall. Five vocalists joined the band as they played their way through the songs of the great jazz crooner.

The instrumentalists were also out in force at the Spring Concert, held at St Paul’s School in Barnes in the middle of March. This was a particularly lovely evening with lots of very good playing from both junior and senior ensembles. Repertoire ranged from Don’t Stop Me Know by Queen to the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Bernstein. The Concert Band, directed by Sarah Wilby, gave a particularly fine performance of a piece called Fiesta! by Philip Sparke. Perhaps most notable was the playing by Senior Strings of the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. This work, for double string orchestra, is very demanding and it is a real testament to the strength in depth of the School’s string playing currently that a work such as this could be performed.

The Schola has been very busy, singing at a number of wonderful venues during the term.  At the end of January they helped raise more than £25,000 for the Cardinal HumeCentre, with a performance of the Mozart Requiem at St John’s, Smith Square. 

Some of the younger boys sang in a performance of Carmina Burana at the Festival Hall with the Bach Choir (pictured below) and on the same evening the older members of the choir sang in ‘An Evening with Rick Wakeman’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. 

The Schola trebles gave a very lovely lunchtime recital was given in March at the Royal Opera House with the boys singing alongside boys from Trinity School in Croydon and Tiffin School in Kingston.

Two boys, Alessio D’Andrea and Conor Quinn sang solo roles in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House.

Later in March the Schola traveled to Cambridge, becoming (I believe) the first state school choir to ever sing Evensong in the famous Chapel of King’s College.

In addition, the choir has sung twice for Mass at Westminster Cathedral and of course maintained its weekly commitment of singing a huge array of music for the School’s liturgy.

In the final week of term the School Choir, joined by the Cantus Ensemble and the Belgravia Chamber Orchestra, performed Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, one of the very greatest of all oratorios, in a wonderful occasion held at St James’s, Spanish Place. The soloists were Old Vaughanian Peter Davoren, Diana Moore and David Soar. This was a splendid performance, full of energy and passion, remarkable given that it came at the end of such a long and demanding term. Elgar’s choral writing makes many demands on the singers and the boys proved more than equal to the challenges of the Demons Chorus and the tour de force that is Elgar’s setting of Praise to the Holiest. The Schola did a fine job as the semi-chorus. The Blessed John Henry Newman’s words are always powerful of course but in the setting of St James’s, Spanish Place the work made a tremendous emotional impact on many present.  The Catholic Herald contained an article by Pastor Iuventus inspired by the concert. Congratulations to all involved in what was a very memorable evening.

Term ended with services to mark Holy Week. On the final evening of term we held a service based on the  Stations of the Cross, led by School Chaplain Father Dominic, entitled Via Crucis. The Schola sang music by Byrd, Parsons, Tallis, Casals, Lotti, Bach and Anerio in between reflections from Father Dominic. The following morning the Schola led the music in the Lower School Lenten Service whilst the Girls Choir sang at the Upper School Service.

Not that the music was finished though the Easter Holidays were to contain some very exciting music-making…….more to follow!


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