Music News - Advent Concert Review

Despite the chills of winter flying about the hill on which Lancing stands, the warmth of Christmas spirit was elevated once more by the familiar sound of extraordinary music. With reindeer antlers and stars upon trees, the merry tunes of the Advent Concert replaced the winter blues this year, as quickly as it has always done.
Following a cheerful welcome from our Director of Music, Dr Morgan-Williams, the Concert Band’s performance provided a brilliant start to the evening with Sergei Prokofiev’s Troika. This was a marvellously triumphant piece with a rich, colourful sound, which reverberated throughout Great School and thoroughly impressed the already excited audience. To contrast the classical, the Stevie Wonder Melody (arranged
by John Wasson) was a memorable jazz twist, which evoked not only a sense of nostalgia for some but also an urge in the audience to get up from their seats and dance. Needless to say, the Concert Band’s performances set the tone for an evening of magnificent music. 

Sinfonia, which also included talented pupils from Lancing’s prep schools, was up next to perform Christopher Norton’s Beachfront, allowing the audience to escape into the laidback tropics: it made me crave a cold glistening ice cream in November. Sinfonia took us on another journey to the Welsh mountains with a Welsh Folk Song Medley (arranged by Mr Langworthy) with the occasional tribal “oi oi”.

From the tuba to the trumpet, the Brass Ensemble performed Julius Fucik’s joyous Florentiner Marsch. The ensemble proceeded to blow the winter blues away with the Christmas classics Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air (The Snowman) and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. Honk!, the saxophone quartet wearing reindeer antlers, fittingly paid homage to Johnny Marks’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer followed by the cheeky tune for tap dance shoes Euday L Bowman’s 12th Street Rag.

The Lancing College Big Band brought out some big numbers: Tuxedo Junction (arranged by J Berry); Quincey Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova; and the unforgettable Beatles’ song Hey Jude to bring a brilliant end to the first half.

After the interval, A Cappella Club opened the second half with Gary Bonner & Alan Gordon’s gleeful love song Happy Together followed by Billy Hayes & Jay W Johnson’s beautifully melancholy Blue Christmas.

The String Chamber Orchestra revived Gustav Holst’s 20th century masterpiece St Paul’s Suite with the opening violin solo ostinato played by Lower Sixth student Cecily M, who also led the orchestra.

A glorious concert requires a most glorious end, which was strikingly performed by the Symphony Orchestra through Verdi’s tremendous Grand March from the opera Aida succeeded by the William Mathias’s elegant Serenade for Small Orchestra iii. Allegro con slancio. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor was the intense marvel concluding the evening’s orchestral music. However, all wasn’t over just yet when trebles Rafi B P, Benjamin I-C and Dom H were the ethereal voices chosen to sing the ancient Welsh hymn Ar Fore Dydd Nadolig (arranged by Dr Morgan-Williams) as a tribute to Mr Cox’s astounding 41 years at the College.

From cellists to clarinettists, a very well done to everyone in the concert this year – a spectacular evening of immaculately-played music which brought about
the true Christmas spirit that never fails to impress.

Stephanie O, Lower Sixth