An evening of ‘Ensembles in Concert’ showcased the talents of many pupils, opening with the wind band, whose contribution included an arrangement of Neil Diamond’s infamous Sweet Caroline, which showed off a confident trumpet section on the verse’s melody and the tuba and trombones in the chorus. It was pleasing to hear good ensemble qualities in this young group, especially amongst the flutes and clarinets, who set an excellent example.
Polyphonix, the school’s pop choir gave two heart-felt renditions of well-loved songs; firstly the classic Lean On Me by Bill Withers, followed by an arrangement of A Million Dreams from the recent hit film The Greatest Showman, which presented challenging long phrases and a very wide melodic range. Following an expressive and enjoyable performance, the girls of Polyphonix will no doubt look to build upon the assured start they have made this year.
The virtuosic string-writing in Bartok’s Romanian Dances called for confident, projected playing from the Chamber Orchestra, which the pupils managed well. The dances ranged from the stirring Stick Dance with its Scotch snap rhythms, to the foot-tap-inducing Oom-pah rhythms of the Waistband Dance. Next came the Hungarian Czardas by Monti. This lavish rhapsodic piece employs tremolo and pizzicato techniques, forming captivating textures upon which a twisting, graceful melody speaks. Following this, the music moved into a quicker dance section. This challenging music demanded the total engagement of all of the players involved, which culminated in a convincing and enjoyable performance.
The concert’s second half saw Big Band take to the stage with Gershwin’s Strike up the Band, an apt title for the rich and full tone that was produced. A particular mention goes to the trumpets and saxophones for the blended sound they achieved in this piece.
Clo (Form 7) then took to the microphone to sing A Foggy Day in London Town, delivering vocals with a stylish ease before brilliantly performing The Girl in 14G which demands range, power and huge versatility. The Band got into the swing of things with lesser-heard theme from The Odd Couple, which made for a nice change of pace in the programme, showing their dynamic control and subtlety. All my Life, a chilled ballad with sumptuous harmonies from the horn section, gave Tatenda (Form 5) the spotlight for a suitably moody solo which she delivered with great conviction. The concert closed with a groovy rendition of Love Shack by Catherine Pierson. The overwhelming impression of their second half appearance was that Big Band that has the potential to reach a very high standard this year; future performances are not to be missed.