Advent Concert - A Review

As I write this, December has just begun, yet Christmas fever has already taken the College by storm. The winter blues have quickly been replaced by overwhelming amounts of tinsel and baubles; as happens every year, the Christmas season truly gets under way with the College’s Advent Concert.

This year’s concert was opened by the A Cappella Club with a brilliant performance of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. This created a lively atmosphere and set the tone for an evening of great music.

Next came the Concert Band which performed Gustav Holst’s British Band Classic – Suite No. 2 in F. The whole band played beautifully in unison and the upbeat, festive nature of the music stirred excitement amongst the audience. The crystal clear sound of the solo triangle resonated throughout the College, awakening the Christmas spirit. To top it all off, the Concert Band offered a spectacular performance of Leroy Anderson’s traditional Christmas Festival, earning themselves a lot of cheers.

After that, Sinfonia played the majestic Gettysburg by Randy Edelman. The strong percussions, in combination with the strings, elevated everyone’s morale; I was particularly impressed by the immaculate performance of the woodwind instruments.

Sinfonia was succeeded by the famous saxophone quintet Honk!. As in all other concerts, Honk! pleasantly surprised the audience with their performance and presence on the stage. Their effortless, perfect performance of The Twelve Tunes of Christmas was in my opinion the highlight of the evening, and their quirky outfits made it even more memorable. The four students combined the formal school uniform with some not so formal festive accessories, such as reindeer antlers, glowing red noses and Christmas hats. Honk! definitely know how to entertain an audience!

The Brass Ensemble performed three pieces. A special mention should go to their performance of Bach’s Sheep may safely graze; this piece isn’t a typical Christmas jingle, yet it was my favourite as, in contrast to the previous pieces performed by the Ensemble, it was surprisingly peaceful and composing.

Big Band closed the first half of the concert with three great pieces – Birdland, Green Onions and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

After the interval, the audience was delighted with a number of more classical pieces. The String Chamber Orchestra, led by Seung-Youn Han on the violin, kicked off the second half with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in E major, more widely known as Spring from the Four Seasons. Contrasting the overall gleeful atmosphere set by Vivaldi’s piece, the next piece, Serenade for Strings in E minor by Elgar, was slower and more emotive, demonstrating the performers’ range of musical skills.

Then came the long awaited Symphony Orchestra, conducted by our very own Dr Morgan-Williams, who didn’t fail to lighten everyone’s mood with a few witty jokes before the performance of Beethoven's Overtour: Egmont, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony's No 3 in A Minor (Scottish).

Closing the concert was probably the most heartfelt solo, performed by Third Former Rafi Bellamy Plaice; his Away in a Manger left the audience in absolute awe.

It was a great evening of pristine musical performances and it definitely set the Christmas mood at the College.

Yana M, Fifth Form