Our ensembles concerts are always a real favourite and this one was certainly no exception. Despite the chilly weather, a full audience of friends and family turned up to enjoy a concert of true musical variety given by five of the schools talented ensembles.
The younger musicians of the Wind Band opened the concert with two very different works. A traditional Celtic Air & Dance was played confidently with an excellent sense of rhythm, aided by the constant Celtic drumbeat from the snare drum. Following this, the ensemble performed the theme from the popular 60s television series Thunderbirds, which was a blast from the past for many in the audience! Polyphonix, the middle school girls’ choir, delighted the audience with two popular songs. Their moving performance of the Jackson 5’s I’ll be there included some beautiful sections of harmony which added real depth to the song and the more recent 2017 release What about us? by P!nk was sung with excellent projection through the Chapel. Clarinettists Morgan and William offered a complete musical contrast with a scintillating performance of Poulenc’s neo-classical Sonata for two clarinets and to round-off the first half, the tremendously talented Chamber Orchestra gave a polished performance of Handel’s Concerto Grosso in A minor, which displayed their exceptional sense of ensemble playing.
The Big Band took to the stage in the second half and started their set on a high with an animated performance of Soul Bossa Nova, a real favourite with both the Big Band and the audience. This was followed by Gerry Mulligan’s Out back of the barn, which was dominated by the deep resonant sound of Bryn Davies’ skilful baritone saxophone solo. Oakham School's own budding composer Morgan offered another change of tone with the premiere performance his skillyfully composed, rhytmically contemporary work Argumentative Music, before the band slowed things down with a big band version of Hoagy Carmichael’s beautiful love ballad The nearness of you, featuring Sam Thomas on solo flugelhorn. Sam’s rich and expressive tone on this not-often heard instrument sang out in the chapel while the rest of the big band provided a sensitive accompaniment - simply stunning! Manteca brought things back up to tempo with lively Latin American rhythms interspersed with punchy entries from the horns, and the band ended things with a bang with a rendition of the Jackson 5’s I want you back that had all the audience dancing in their seats. Overall, the Big Band put on a really sharp, high-quality performance which was a tribute to all their hard work under the direction of Steve Foster so far this year. A fantastic end to a fantastic concert!