St Cecilia’s Day Concert Review
04 December 2017
On Friday 1 December, we enjoyed our annual Concert for Saint Cecilia’s Day in BBC Hoddinott Hall, WMC. This is our signature musical event of the year, exhibiting the very highest musical standards achievable in the context of our school lifestyle, and celebrating the extensive commitment to music-making shown by our pupils and staff. Participation was at a record high of 190 pupil performers, many of whom appeared in multiple ensembles, not to mention the Senior Chamber Choir of well over 100 voices.
The concert began with Senior Orchestra playing an exuberant overture, Resurgences, certainly lifting our spirits for a splendid evening ahead. This was followed by an equally impressive second piece, 007: Through the Years - a cleverly written and thoroughly engaging medley of James Bond hits.
Cantemus, our premier Junior choir, were on top form, singing Purcell’s ‘Sound the Trumpet’ and a contemporary song, ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’. The vocal demands of these pieces were considerable, yet our young singers took it all in their stride and performed both with aplomb and apparent ease.
Sinfonia, our 2nd Orchestra, performed a superb arrangement of Coldplay hits, including ‘Clocks’, ‘Paradise’ and ‘Viva La Vida’. The quality of ensemble interaction, tuning and stylistic communication was really apparent.
Flute Choir gave a lovely rendition of Strauss’s ‘Tritsch-Tratsch Polka’. Brass Ensemble was possibly the largest it has ever been, performing Couperin’s ‘Air Tendre’ and Dixieland classic, ‘Tiger Rag’. The String Ensemble played a bespoke arrangement of Queen hits. These were all much enjoyed by pupils and audience alike.
The Jazz Band closed the first half in real style, soon getting everyone’s feet (and hands!) tapping. Repertoire included Birdland, Straighten Up and Fly Right, and The Jazz Police. As ever, Mr Atkinson’s vocals were so much appreciated and inspired the band to play with professional confidence.
The second half of the concert began with a most impressive performance by Advanced Percussion Ensemble – David Mancini’s Suite for Solo Drum Set and Percussion Ensemble. This composition really showed off the technical skill and bravura of the percussionists.
Moving to the climax of the evening, our St Cecilia’s Concert concluded with a performance of John Rutter’s Magnificat. Senior Chamber Choir has now outgrown its original identity to reach Choral Society proportions, including not only pupils from Years 7-13, but also various members of staff – tonight numbering around 120 voices in total. The choir sang really beautifully, bringing out all the musical contrasts in the piece with commendable security. There were moments of joy, tenderness, and climactic power. Moreover, the pupils achieved a very special tonal quality, not only within melodic passages but also as a well-blended choral ensemble. Particular thanks go to Mrs Iona Jones, soprano soloist, who sang so exquisitely and sensitively.
The Director of Music offers his very great thanks to everyone who was involved in any way with the preparation and delivery of the concert: once again, a musical experience to be immensely proud of, and one to look back one with pride and affection in years to come.
A sound recording of the concert is now available to enjoy on SoundCloud.com: