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Hurricane Wind Band have grown and developed over the last year and they launched this year’s Spring Concert with panache, giving self-assured performances of three marches by the American composer John Philip Souza: the well-known Washington Post and Stars and Stripes Forever, followed by The Liberty Bell, remembered by many as the Monty Python theme tune.
The Man Choir are developing something of a following around school. The boys ranging from year 7 to year 13 have performed in a whole-school assembly and recently provided serenades by request to raise money for charity on St Valentine’s Day. They presented two a cappella items in the Spring Concert: Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl with its weaving lines and intriguing harmony changes was paired with the haunting and thoughtful What I Did for Love from the musical A Chorus Line.
College Strings performed the third item in the first half, demonstrating their lighter side with Dream Song and Night Life by Barry Carson Turner. The ensemble created a sumptuous, full and homogenous string sound, fitting well with the lighter music items that formed the concert’s first half, and contrasting effectively with their baroque style later in the programme.
The Swing Band took us to the interval with two items: a tight, rhythmic performance of the Duke Ellington standard Perdido; and beautifully blended sounds in an arrangement of Adele’s Skyfall.
The second half of the concert contained three well-loved classical pieces. Isobel Scarle and Pia-Rose Scattergood performed the slow movement from Bach’s famous Double Concerto adapted for two flutes, creating a beautifully liquid sound, delicately accompanied by College Strings.
For many the high-point of the concert came with the Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Boléro by Maurice Ravel. Audience members made favourable comparisons with regional and national youth orchestras. This original full version of the piece built gradually over the course of seventeen minutes from a single quiet flute solo to a full orchestral climax. Each member of the orchestra gave outstanding performances, but worth mentioning alongside the many soloists is Callum Henderson, who played the well-known insistent snare drum rhythm with tremendous control building throughout the whole piece. A range of feature solos play prominent roles in the piece and every one of them was played expertly with real character and style by Pia Rose Scattergood (Flute), Daniel Fawcett and Jonathan Hampshire (Oboe), Francis Sinfield (Trumpet), Kaseem Hamilton (Tenor Sax), Sophie Hayes (Soprano Sax) and Adam Feeney (Trombone).
As usual the evening concluded with a full choral work. This year Vivaldi’s famous Gloria provided a polished concert finale. Schola Cantorum and the Chamber Orchestra were joined by the Choral Society, formed as usual from students, parents, teachers and friends of the school. The piece included superb solos from students Hattie Manson, Ellie Chesshire, Alex Archer-Dyer and Jonathan Hampshire.