As the title suggests, this concert presented an array of catchy and well-loved pieces. Wind Band, conducted by Mr Steve Foster, opened the evening’s entertainment with the exuberant Lady Liberty March by Paul Murtha, which raised spirits and heart rates with its stirring sense of pulse and marching rhythm causing the tapping of many feet amongst those present. Two arrangements of pop classics followed this, firstly Bad by Michael Jackson and then Sweet Caroline, by Neil Diamond, which the band played with great conviction and energy. In a trip down memory lane for children of the 1980s and 1990s, we then heard a Bluesy rendition of the theme from Sesame Street.
Polyphonix, conducted by Miss Lyndsey Evans, performed three contrasting numbers, beginning with a beautiful arrangement of the reflective song Somewhere Only We Know by Keane. It was impressive to hear such good balance between parts and strong leads. Next, a hit single from The Greatest Showman, A Million Dreams. This was delivered with feeling and was well received by the audience. Finishing on a high, we were treated to Walking on Sunshine, made famous by Katrina & The Waves. What was mostly pleasing about Polyphonix’s final performance of the year was to see how much they have grown in confidence. Their smiles and eye contact with the audience really aided the impression they put across.
In addition to the evening’s performances, we saw the awarding of the Chamber Music Cup, awarded yearly to pupils in recognition of their contribution to chamber music making in school. This year’s winners, Jessica and Rupert, both Form 5 pupils, have contributed much in school concerts this year and performed to an exceptionally high standard.
Chamber Orchestra finished the first half with two pieces of classical repertoire. The first was Romance for Bass Trombone by Carl Maria von Weber. The soloist, Oliver (Form 7) demonstrated superb technical control in the extremes of the instruments’ pitch range, leaping from subterranean bass notes to the more lyrical high register with ease and excellent intonation. The strings in this piece provide a tranquil, sustained accompaniment with moments of tremolo playing and some dialogue with the solo melody. The second piece was the first movement of J S Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G. The ensemble showed a lively character with stylistic articulation and awareness of each other’s parts and importance within the texture.
Concert Band opened the second half of the concert with The Last Centaur, a piece that has many characteristics of a blockbuster soundtrack. It really allowed the ensemble to demonstrate lots of expressive control and a broad spectrum of tonal colours. We then heard two highlights from the Gala concert programme performed in early March: The Symphonic Gershwin, a medley requiring attentive following and secure rhythms, and Jitterbug! by Robert Buckley, a piece that the band clearly love to play as it epitomises the height of swing in 1930s and 1940s America, with rich jazz harmonies and syncopated rhythms. The Concert Band performed a piece called Share My Yoke by Ivor Bosanko, featuring a mesmerising trumpet solo played by Freddie (Form 6), who showed excellent technical control to sustain a beautiful tone through the high range. The concert concluded with an arrangement of John Williams’ Star Wars Marches, which evoked some iconic moments from the soundtrack and was a timely performance to act as a tribute to Peter Mayhew, the actor who played the character Chewbacca in the original trilogy of films.