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Outstanding performances at the St Cecilia’s Day Concert

25 November 2016
Outstanding performances at the St Cecilia’s Day Concert

Once again, the annual St Cecilia’s Day Concert, was a really wonderful occasion for all involved. Around 170 pupils performed, many of whom appeared in multiple ensembles, not to mention the Senior Chamber Choir of 100 voices. By all accounts, and not least through messages of appreciation from audience members, standards of performance were extremely high and, in some respects, quite exceptional.

The concert started on a high note with an exhilarating suite of arrangements from the Star Wars Epic, featuring iconic themes from the full range of movies. The audience were relaxed and entertained, and the young players' confidence boosted through the stimulation of such inspiring music. This set the scene well for what was to come.

Senior & Advanced Percussion Ensembles were on top form, presenting colourful, dynamic arrangements of ‘On the Breeze’ and ‘Boogie Wonderland’. Our rich provision of orchestral percussion instruments was well utilized, whilst our pupil percussionists demonstrated a superb awareness of ensemble interaction.

Sinfonia, our 2nd Orchestra, also gave an exciting performance, with superb arrangements of themes from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and Taylor Swift’s chart song, ‘Shake it Off’. The pupils absolutely loved these pieces, once again engaging with tunes that most of them knew and admired. Sinfonia and Senior Orchestra were both of very substantial proportions: as one commentator in the audience put it, “I can never get over the number of pupils in all your ensembles, but to have two large orchestras of the standard of the Senior Orchestra and Sinfonia is remarkable.”

Ensemble interaction in all the smaller groups was excellent and the players clearly listened to each other very intently, responding particularly well to their conductors. This takes a lot of trust and respect within the group, as well as a mature and solid technical skill.

Our premier Junior choir, Cantemus, were- as usual - a delight, producing arguably one of their most ambitious and musically successful performances to date. The quality and sophistication of Mrs Plaut’s own composition inspired the boys and girls to rise to the challenge. Senior Flute Choir, too, were excellent – once again exhibiting tight ensemble awareness. With over ten players this was a richly toned ensemble, brilliantly executing a delightful arrangement of ‘Suite for Variety Orchestra’ (Waltz No, 2).

Senior String Ensemble demonstrated impressive control and accuracy in the Holst’s ‘St Pauls Suite’, bringing a smile to many. The arrangement of ‘Over the Rainbow/Simple Gifts’ was refreshing, original, and well suited for the players.

The first half concluded with our Brass Ensemble and Jazz Band, both playing with obvious enjoyment and commitment. Mr Atkinson’s ‘Frank Sinatra’ vocals in ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ ended the first half of the concert on a real high.

Refreshed after the interval, we then enjoyed a most profound and moving performance of Howard Goodall’s modern-day requiem, ‘Eternal Light’. Senior Chamber Choir was accompanied by a chamber orchestra of professional players, and complemented by the solo voices of our own singing teachers, Mrs Jones and Mr Evans. The depth and richness of the overall sound was simply remarkable, every aspect of the large musical ensemble blending so beautifully. Senior Chamber Choir gave, again, perhaps their best performance to date, demonstrating immaculate tuning, brightness of tone, musical accuracy, and a remarkable depth of expression. It is to the very great credit of both Mr Goodall’s composition and our own, Cathedral School rendering of the work, that so many members of the audience (not to mention several of the singers) were literally moved to tears at certain points during the Requiem.

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; a musical experience to be immensely proud of, and one to cherish in years to come.

The sound recording of the concert will be released on SoundCloud.com before the Christmas Holidays.

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