Friday, 3 May 2013

A Good Gig

Last night was the school's spring concert.

The music was largely 20th - 21st century apart from Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Oskar Rieding; but despite my prejudices, there was little one could describe as cheap (Hans Zimmer's score for Pirates of the Caribbean, an Aerosmith song, and Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now being the only lapses).

So we were treated to Irving Berlin, John Rutter, Poulenc, Burt Bacharach, Tom Lehrer (no he's not cheap - not high art, of course - but a different category altogether), Eric Coates, and a wonderful Sonatina for Cello which I hadn't known by Pal Járdányi, amongst others.

The most modern compositions were by pupils performing their own pieces, one a serenade for Clarinet and Piano, with the composer's younger brother on clarinet, and the other a piano piece.  Both were very good.

The programme was nicely balanced, too, with performances by the Band (Puttin' on the Ritz and a Glenn Miller medley) the Chamber Choir (The Way You Look Tonight, For the Beauty of the Earth, New York, New York!) the String Group and a String Quartet, the Choir, the Boys' Chamber Choir (Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, I Can See Clearly Now), the Brass Sextet and of course the full orchestra (Dambusters March, Pirates...) as well as many soloists, including a sax player performing Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street (which Charlie and Dominique were thinking of doing next year - having discussed it, they still may, as they feel last night's performance, though competent, was nothing compared to what they could do with it!)

Charlie featured in the Brass Sextet, which we hadn't even heard about till yesterday, and both he and Dominique are in the orchestra.

What was impressive, though, was the standard of musicianship throughout.  There were one or two slightly weaker performances, but overall it was as good as anything the school has put on, and a lot better than many.  In particular, the strings are vastly improved: the intonation, which is always what makes me wince with school string groups and orchestras, was flawless for much of the time, particularly in the String Group and the Quartet.  It was a little dodgy in the orchestral pieces at times, but still significantly better than it used to be.

All the singing was of a very high standard, as were the other small ensembles; and the soloists ranged from good (though nervous in the case of the sax and the flautist playing Poulenc's very tricky Sonata) to excellent in most other cases; the highlight being the cellist playing the  Járdányi Sonatina.

We pass lightly over the percussion (and wish they had).

I had gone expecting it to be good in parts; I left really impressed.

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