The May Concert goes
The May Concert on 11 May marked the end of an era which began in 1976, and which, in its present form has been running for 15 years at Robert Blackwood Hall. Next year, the concert will transfer to the Ian Roach Auditorium in the James Forbes Academy, and a wonderful new era will open.
The concert was a huge affair, following the traditional pattern of appearances for the many large ensembles of boys in a kaleidoscope of short performances. More than 350 individual boys performed, plus the massed choir of Year 7 - a remarkable logistical undertaking!
Interspersed with the lighthearted visual and musical fun of The Great Locomotive Chase The May Concert goes out with (performed by the George Dreyfus Wind Ensemble) with its rhythmically flashing lights and conductor a bang. obscuring "smoke", and the climactic Ariba were moments of individual musical excellence. Thomas Gin's thoughtful and mellifluous performance of the 1st movement of Mozart's 4th violin concerto in D major provided a focal point for the first half of the evening, and reflected his stature as an LMusA. In the second half, the Chamber Choir's outstanding intonation and control in performing In Flanders Fields gave a still centre to an otherwise wonderful rollicking voyage through the band and jazz repertoire.
With so many different ensembles and performers on the stage, it is invidious to single out just a few for special mention. All performers gave of their best, and each ensemble demonstrated the fruits of their hours of practice. hat was so clear in all the performances was the enjoyment that the boys showed, while providing such enjoyment for a very large audience.
The younger players in the Ted Joyner Band moved rhythmically through Die Another Day as the opening number, and the Henri Touzeau String Orchestra gave a lively and engaging selection from Chicago. the Intermediate Band, under Glenn Bardwell, as particularly fine in its evocations of the Russian steppes with its rendition of Tchaikovsky's March Slave and the Symphonic Wind's bracket featured a controlled emotional lyricism in Shenandoah.
The Senior Strings, under the baton of Robert Wakely, warmed up with a well balanced performance of Copland's challenging Hoe Down from Rodeo, after which a number of the players took their seats with the Symphony Orchestra for the Mozart, followed by a finely judged offering of the overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai. Again, this is not an easy piece to convey to the audience, but there was a strong communicative spirit in the orchestra under conductor John Ferguson.
The second half of the evening began with the Year 7 Massed Choir. The sense of fun - and control-was continued by the Chamber Choir in its whimsical rendition of Grandfather's Clock. The combined forces of the College Choir and four instrumental soloists produced a most moving performance of the Scottish folksong The Water is Wide before swinging into Kurt Weil's Mack the Knife as a strong contrast in mood and energy.
The concert ended with a bang. The Monday Big Band was exciting in its short bracket of In a Mellow Tone and Cool Down, while the finale of the Showband highlighted the undoubted musical talents of soloists Thomas Strong, Christopher Sia, Edwin Chow and Angus Tiernan. it was a fine way to end a long but most satisfying evening, and to bring to an end the tradition of so many years.
With the opening of the Ian Roach Auditorium in the James Forbes Academy at the start of 2005, the format of the concerts will change. there will be an opportunity for more - but shorter - concerts in which the ensembles will be able to play longer pieces and develop their skills to a yet higher level. With so many boys already participating in the ensembles, his can only lead to still greater things.
A new era will open for the Music School and for the hundreds of boys who participate every week in this vast range of ensembles. While it is sad to see the end of one tradition, it is also exciting to be present at the birth of another, and we now await the new look concerts of 2005 with great excitement.
Director of Development
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