All That Jazz!
Exeter Junior School was transported back to the Jazz Age in this year’s joyful Spring Concert, which took place on Tuesday evening.
All of the Junior School pupils participated in the performance, with songs in year groups and performances from the many junior ensembles as well as a number of songs performed by the whole school.
The concert opened with the African Drumming Group, whose enthusiasm and commitment in performance shone through, under the direction of drumming teacher Mr Crossen. Next came Junior Orchestra which also features a few of the senior pupils leading sections and inspiring the younger players. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is always a favourite, whilst American Patrol gave a foretaste of the jazz theme to come in the songs later in the programme. The work of Mrs Guthrie, Mrs Goldsworthy and Mr Gillett in preparing the players had clearly paid off, with a vigorous and stylish performance.
Form One and Upper One’s Lazy Sunday Afternoon Blues provided a relaxing interlude within the programme, as did the delicate in intricate sound of the Guitar Group, directed by Mrs Stanley. The Junior Singers, Mrs Guthrie’s younger choir which contains around 75% of all the Form One and Upper One pupils, then returned to the up-tempo mood with He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands and Gallina’s I Want to be Happy.
The jazz theme shone through with the Junior Wind and Brass Group’s choice of Steam Train Blues and the Glen Miller classic Little Brown Jug, played superbly under the direction of Mrs Goldsworthy. Surely one of the most famous jazz ballads, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, was then performed with great sensitivity by Junior Choir, with a beautifully-tuned solo from Xarinelle Keay.
Sizzling Strings welcomes all junior string players under the guidance of Mr Gillett. Introducing a Latin feel to proceedings, they gave a stylish rendition of Tango and Cha-Cha-Cha! Moving toward Gospel, Walk On, sung by Junior Choir, had the audience’s feel tapping, with many joining in the hand-clapping section.
As the interval approached, the whole Junior School joined together under the direction of Mrs Guthrie with a stunning performance of Spread a Little Happiness, which rather summed up the effect of the first half of music.
As is the tradition in the Junior Spring Concert, the second half provided many of the Upper Two pupils with the opportunity to demonstrate their individual talents, with a number of solo and smaller-group opportunities musically and in dance and narration. That Dixieland Sound featured trumpeter Mattie Thomas, along with some enthusiastic singing which led smoothly onto the Bugsy Malone number Fat Sam’s Grand Slam with vocal soloists Matthew Roberts and Darcy Beau Hedden. Also from Bugsy Malone, we were next introduced to a group of Bad Guys, roles played with suitable menace and attitude by twelve of the Upper Twos.
A number of aspiring flappers showed off their Charleston skills to the 1920s classic, whilst Toby Page, Connie Croft and Jasmine Hardy demonstrated they had real style in Putting on the Ritz. Another Glenn Miller number, Chatanooga Choo-Choo, provided John Pugh with his solo opportunity, which was followed by songs by another jazz great – Gershwin. Summertime from Porgy and Bess featured some sublime solo singing from Amy Dennis and Emily Ahmad, with the concert concluding with I Got Rhythm, which all the pupils in the junior school certainly proved to be true.
The songs in the second half were linked by short narrations, clearly and confidently delivered.
The whole concert had great exuberance, with impressive and highly enjoyable performances from start to finish. Congratulations and thanks go to all the pupils for their energy, hard work, musicality and enthusiasm.