The Advent Concert

On a chilly night at the end of November, the audience flooded into Great School for the annual Advent Concert. The evening started with The Liberty Bell by Sousa performed by the Big Band, bringing a triumphant mood into the room. This was closely followed by Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Sixth Former Aidan S, a sensational pianist. The music moved from relaxed passages to intense music with intricate finger work from Aidan. 
Then came Sinfonia, performing Strauss’ Radetzky March. They followed with beautiful melodies of Down by the Sally Gardens before taking the audiences on a voyage to the ocean with Badelt’s Pirates of the Caribbean. The performance was suspenseful and a delight to listen to. Next featured was the newly formed Trombone Choir featuring five talented musicians. They performed Cantor’s Makin’ Whoopee, with Jon L playing a brilliant solo passage. Sherman’s King of the Swingers from The Jungle Book was a fun piece to listen to, with frequent glissando on the trombones depicting the swinging vines in the jungle. The evening progressed with Honk! with more brass brilliance in their performances of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and a quirky rendition of the Christmas classic Let it Snow, which was a smooth as brandy being poured over Christmas pudding. Paul Koepke’s Harlequinade performed by the Flute Ensemble cast an enchanting spell over the audience with its light-hearted nature and numerous trills which undoubtedly lifted spirits throughout Great School. Nonetheless, even if the audience were in their seats, Big Band’s performances of Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon, Será’s Sway, and Stevie Wonder’s unforgettable Superstition certainly prompted a few shoulder shakes and foot taps. Finally, what better way to end the first half than a unique cover of the pop duo LMFAO’s 2010 club banger Party Rock Anthem arranged by Paul Murtha with shouts of ‘every day I’m shuffling’ – and they certainly did, with immense energy, to the interval.
Shouts turned to songs with Mr Langworthy’s A Capella Club who filled the room with the splendid melodic colour of Cyndi Lauper’s
Time After Time and Deke Sharon’s arrangement of Shut Up and Dance, the latter another heartening tune that everyone involved truly delighted in. The String Chamber Orchestra didn’t falter in the slightest to recapitulate this delight with their magnificent performance of the jubilant 
Grieg’s Holberg Suite Op. 40 especially in I. Praeludium, contrasting significantly with the sophisticated II. Sarabande and the regal dance of the strings in high tessituras for III. Gavotte. The nature of IV. Air was beautifully sombre, with its melody soaring above the audience. Nonetheless, the final movement V. Rigaudon ensured the turbulent tones of Grieg’s Suite ended on a lively note. Finally, the Symphony Orchestra took to the stage, conducted by new Director of Music Mr Mason, with the works of the renowned composers Haydn and Vaughan Williams in tow. Haydn’s 3. Minuet and Trio of Symphony 104 rose to the lavish heights of Great School which was sustained in the 4. Finale in a most harmonious marriage between the instrumental sections.
To conclude such a sublime evening, Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Suite was the triumphant choice with 1. Seventeen Come Sunday and 3. Folk Songs from Somerset, both evoking serene thoughts of voyages of redemption, freely enjoyed – as was definitely the case for the entirety of this year’s Advent Concert.

Kelly T and Steph O, Upper Sixth