News from the Music Department

News from the Music Department

As the First Semester draws to a close, the Music Department has celebrated two of its major events: the annual Gala Concert, held at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place; and the Winter Concert.

The Gala Concert, with its title of Cosmic Forces, did not disappoint. The concert began with the resounding sounds of the Brass Ensemble enveloping the auditorium, followed by a moving performance of the ‘Hymn to the Fallen’, from the movie Saving Private Ryan; the Symphonic Wind Band joined for this performance with the Combined Preparatory and Junior School Choirs.

The Symphonic Wind Band concluded their set with 3 sparkling Klezmer dances, the 3rd of which was so well-received by the audience that they demanded an encore, which the Band, celebrating its 70th Year, was happy to provide, led by our Head of Brass, Mr Christopher Aschman.

The Combined Preparatory and Junior School Choirs then gave an enchanting performance of the song ‘When I grow up’ from Matilda the Musical, accompanied by Mr Kinda and an augmented ensemble of senior boys, conducted and arranged by Dr McGregor.

The Sinfonietta never fails to produce performances of excellence and this year was no exception. Directed by our Head of Strings, Ms Kate Morgan, the ensemble performed a Nocturne by Tchaikovsky with a featured solo from Year 12 students, John Dedousis (12MU), whose powerful tone and lyrical playing entranced the audience; whilst their second item, 3 of the variations from Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, featured Joseph Lin (12ST) in a cameo, reinforced by what can only be described as the ensemble’s sheer glorious musical power!

Trinity Choir, at first, combined with our new Commercial Ensemble, in a performance of Life on Mars by David Bowie. The choir brought a level of energy to this performance that demonstrated ensemble skills and maturing vocal ability. The choir then changed gears in a performance of John Rutter’s, The Lord bless you and keep you. This work, which requires vocal restraint, however, also requires agility in vocal range and careful harmonic tuning between parts.

The Big Band, under the direction of our Head of Wind, Mr Will Henry, concluded the first half of the concert in style, with solos from our departing Year 12 students: Kevin Zhong (12HE), Martin Wong (12TA), Hugo Miller (12AR) and Marcus Anstey.

This year the Cello Ensemble, directed by Ms Ludmila Palmer, performed a reduction of the second movement of the Lalo Cello Concerto, with Andy Lin (9WJ) as soloist. The ensemble supported the solo with great sensitivity and Andy performed with great expression. They concluded their set with a fun arrangement of the Super Mario Brothers theme.

Zac Nguyen (11TA) and Will Chang (10AR) performed with the Academy Orchestra in a stunning display of virtuosic talent of the first movement of Mozart’s Violin and Viola Concertante. Their performance being received with ‘bravos’ and rapturous applause.

As the concert moved towards its final musical climaxes, the full Symphony Orchestra and Choir took to the stage. The opening of this set was a performance of the Chorus ‘The Heavens are Telling’ from the Oratorio work by Joseph Haydn, The Creation. Set at the conclusion of the fourth day of the creation story, Haydn brings together soloists, choir and orchestra to capture God’s creation of the sky, the stars, the earth and night and day. The archangels were performed by: Finn Canadas (8Ar) as Gabriel; Jack Hartzenberg (11Yo) as Uriel; and Oscar Hartzenberg (10Yo) as Raphael.

The next item was from the orchestra alone, the Finale of Sibelius’ 5th Symphony, known as Thor’s Hammer. Featuring alternating thematic material between strings and winds, and then the famous Hammer theme from the Horns, this work is a mosaic of melodic fragments which culminate in a great coda with each layered like crashing waves upon a shore, as trumpets, horns and trombones compete for prominence, until the timpani claims the win and the work ends in six stabbing chords.

The Gala concert final work was the extraordinary Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. Igor is captured by his enemy Khan Konchak, brought to him in chains. Khan is impressed with his captee and befriends him, calling for a celebration. The work depicts several dances and songs reflecting the longing for home of the invaders and their intense loyalty to their leader. The Orchestra and Choir giving a powerful performance to match the subject matter!

The Winter Concert held on Tuesday 21st June is the Intermediate ensemble’s Gala. This year’s concert saw a return to full strength after Covid and the inclusion of some of our new Contemporary Ensembles. The Concert Band opened the evening with music from Encanto and Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by our first contemporary ensemble who performed Creep by Radiohead and Radioactive by Imagine Dragon.

Mr Zhang then led his Intermediate Strings in performances of Chinese and Japanese traditional songs arranged from String Orchestra, followed by Mr Rocco’s contemporary ensemble, who raised the roof with Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and Come Together by the Beatles. Mr Cook’s group were alive with rhythmic vigour in performances of ‘Peanut Vendor’ and Oye, Como Va!

As one of our new Year 7 music scholars, it was wonderful to hear a solo performance from Jaemin Yoo, and the fact that he plays the viola which is not so often heard as a solo instrument. His performance of the first movement of Stamitz’s Viola Concerto was musical and virtuosic. A thank you to Mr Kinda for his sensitive accompaniment is also due here.

The story behind the ‘Year 7 Combo’ is a delightful one. As a group of friends in Year 6 at the Junior School last year, this group of Jazzers was led by Mr Malyusz. At the beginning of this year, they came to me to ask if they could stay together as a group, have a regular lunchtime room to practice and have a tutor to help them. I was very happy to oblige. They have been tutored by Mr Whitta and sounded fantastic on the night with some outstanding jazz solos produced from each boy.

Ms Morgan’s Serenata ensemble were outstanding as usual with a moving performance of the Elgar String Serenade, a work of great pathos, requiring a mature approach from the performers. And the ‘Boisterous Bourree’ from Britten’s Simple Symphony (far from simple) was energetic and invigorated.

The evening was completed with the combined item with all performers coming together in a fun arrangement of Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova.

I would like to recognise the work of all the Music Department who have worked so tirelessly over the last 2 terms to prepare the boys for these two significant events in the school’s calendar.

Dr Michael McGregor | Director of Co-curricular Music

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