A festive highlight
National Trust Concert
A festive highlight for pupils, parents and staff within Exeter School’s community, the annual concert in aid of the National Trust took place in Exeter Cathedral on Tuesday evening.
Opening with the traditional treble solo verse of Once in Royal David’s City sung with clarity and confidence by Dominic Hemmings, the scene was set for an atmospheric and joyful concert.
For the first time, Symphony Orchestra combined with Concert Orchestra to perform and arrangement of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, forming an ensemble of around 100 instrumentalists, ranging from Third Form to Upper Sixth. The orchestra also joined in accompanying the audience carols, supported by Mr Daldorph on the Cathedral organ.
The enchanting Harpstrings, this time featuring no fewer than 7 harpists, played an arrangement of Noel Nouvelet with sensitivity and delicacy.
The sound of brass filling a Cathedral is one of the most thrilling and evocative sounds. Mr Moore’s choice of Oratorio de Noel and Hurrying to Bethlehem, both arranged by Kingston, were both impressive and festive.
The five senior school choirs were all performing on Tuesday. The youngest of these, Middle School Choir, conducted by Mrs Guthrie, sang two pieces by Schwartz and delivered enthusiastic and spirited performances.
Belles Canto are always popular with the audience, and lulled them into mellow mood with All I Have To Do is Dream, followed by a charming arrangement of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, featuring a solo from soprano Katy Armstrong.
Vocal Ensemble presented the audience the traditional Latvian piece, Bring Us Fire, Bring Us Light, which for most listeners was a new and unfamiliar work. We were back in traditional festive territory with It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas, which for many in the Cathedral that evening, was exactly the mood created by the evening’s music.
A Devon Christmas, which tends to involve more rain than snow, was evoked by Senior Choir’s choice of Singin’ in the Rain, whilst the essence of Advent in jazz form was sung within Mr Daldorph’s composition, People Prepare.
Chamber Choir singers were in good voice and clearly enjoyed their items Nova Nova, In Dulci Jubilo and Stars. The audience who came to the school’s November Chamber Concert will have been looking forward to hearing the intriguing wine glass accompaniment to Stars once again, and in the resonant acoustic of the Cathedral the haunting sound of the tuned glasses was even more fascinating.
Chamber Orchestra provided two contrasting pieces – the contemporary work The Unanswered Question by Ives, which featured Matt Francis on trumpet and a wind ensemble playing from the West Door, was both atmospheric and challenging, whilst excepts from the Corelli Christmas Concerto provided a conventional Chamber Orchestra sound, featuring soloists Georgia Ling, Emily Moudiotis, Emily Bairstow, Edward O’Connor and Francesca Vercoe.
The music was interspersed with readings, firstly from Head Girl Megan Stride reading Christmas Night by local poet Lawrence Sail. Revd Tom read from the Gospel of St. Matthew, whilst Head Boy Ben Hayes read the amusing Puppies’ Christmas. Amber, Louis, Georgia and Henry concluded the readings with an extract from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by the wonderful Dylan Thomas.
There is still plenty of Christmas music to be enjoyed before the end of term. The Junior Carol Service is on Tuesday 12 December, starting at 2.15pm in the Senior School Hall, whilst the School Christmas Concert will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday 14 December. Tickets for the concert are now available via the box office http://www.exeterschool.org.uk/box-office/buy-tickets/item/school-christmas-concert-1677