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Packed to the brim

Chamber Concert

The annual autumn Chamber Concert took place on the evening of Thursday 22 November to a capacity audience in the Chapel. The event proved to be a real showcase for the smaller senior ensembles, interspersed with a range of solo items.

Chamber Choir, Vocal Ensemble, Boys’ Barbershop and Belles Canto all provided contrasting vocal sets within the programme. Opening the concert, Chamber Choir now numbers around 50 pupils yet still achieved an ethereal and focused sound in Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, whilst the Rutter favourite The Lord Bless You and Keep You, accompanied by Mr Daldorph on the Chapel organ, was sung with a rounded and full tone. Vocal Ensemble delivered a spirited gospel rendition of Sinner Man, followed by a tight and fun-filled performance of Who Put the Bomp.

Singing is undoubtedly thriving, as Boys’ Barbershop and Belles Canto have also expanded to over 20 singers in each group. The Boys chose two traditional barbershop numbers, My Evaline and Little Innocent Lamb and performed with confidence, enthusiasm and energy. Highlighting their versatility, the Belles performed the poignant Pie Jesu by Lloyd Webber and traditional Irish Blessing, and then transported the audience to warmer climes with a groovy California Dreaming, arranged by Mrs Guthrie.

As the instrumental ensembles who performed were all string-based, the choice of solos provided a suitable contrast, featuring woodwind and vocal items. Upper Fifth music GCSE pupils recently recorded their solo performances, amongst them clarinetist Rose and oboist Lily, and the Chamber Concert provided them both the opportunity to share the piece they had prepared. Rose’s choice of Fantasiestücke by Schumann was beautifully tuned and sensitively played, whilst Lily performed Cimarosa’s Siciliana with some effective and subtle dynamics and lovely ornamentation. Ciara played a movement from the Sonata by Devienne on her bassoon, demonstrating the impressive range of the instrument within the intricate piece. Soprano soloist Emily treated the audience to a song by von Gluck. Emily’s pure voice yet with a richness across her range was well suited to her choice of music and was much appreciated by the audience. The last of our soloist slots featured duo Francesca and Ettejean sang the Pur ti miro by Monteverdi. The rapport between these two experienced performers was evident, and although their voices will often display different stylistic qualities, the blend and effect they achieved was delightful.

The Senior ‘Cello Quartet performed the Basse-Danse from the Capriol Suite by Warlock, with the group clearly feeling the dancing rhythm appreciating the almost medieval feel of the piece. The String Quintet played the Allegro movement from Mozart’s Quintet K.516 and featured each of the players taking their turn with the tune and then supporting with some lovely, well-considered ensemble playing in this technically challenging and comparatively substantial work.

Providing the finale to the concert was Chamber Orchestra, appropriately playing Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The three movements featured pupil soloists: Louis, Oliver and George. Louis’ accomplished performance of the Allegro non molto was hugely admired and appreciated by both the audience and fellow pupils, whilst Oliver played the Largo second movement with great sensitivity. The final Allegro movement featured George and was delivered both stylishly and confidently.

A recording is online.

The next opportunity to hear our musicians en masse will be in the Cathedral for the National Trust Christmas on Monday 10 December. Tickets are available via the Box Office.