The Spring Concert on Wednesday 1 May showcased the Music Department’s some of the larger ensembles, as well as senior musicians and chamber groups. Reviving some items from the school’s recent production, ‘Guys and Dolls’, The Symphony Orchestra, led by Year 13 violinist Max, opening the evening’s proceedings with the show’s schmaltzy, melodious overture.
The first of two sixth form bands continued then with ‘Rock and Roll’ by Led Zeppelin, with Joel performing the opening iconic drum solo with aplomb. Lily delivered an enjoyable vocal solo, ‘Waltz of My Heart’, particularly beautiful in the upper register, sensitively accompanied from Hugo at the piano. The sixth form wind trio chose a highly virtuosic piece to perform in the Ferroud ‘Wind Trio’, but Charlotte (flute), Archie (bassoon) and Hugo (clarinet) demonstrated impressive breath control in the second movement and superb technical mastery of their instruments in the third movement. Daniella and Stephanie next gave a moving rendition of the slow movement of ‘Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor’ by J.S. Bach. James, once again choosing daring, lesser-known repertoire, introduced the audience to the first movement from ‘Clarinet Concerto’ by Aaron Copland, seamlessly blending the piece’s jazzy and classical aspects, as once did Benny Goodman at its premiere. Performing Edward’s own medley of tunes from Hans Zimmer’s ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’, the Year 11 brass ensemble treated the audience to a journey through the best moments of this silver-screen favourite. From Guys and Dolls, Sky (Matthew) and Sister Sarah (Emily) closed the first half of the programme with musical acknowledgement of their characters’ feelings from another in ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’.
After the interval the Symphonic Wind Band took to the stage to perform ‘First Suite in E Flat’ in its entirety by Holst. There are difficult passages and exposed solo work for many instruments and many congratulations rightly go to all involved. Special mentions go to James for his charming melodic contributions throughout and Hugo for the sheer personality of his E Flat clarinet!
Unconducted, the Chamber Choir followed with the most seasonal items of the evening, ‘The Easter Song of Praise’ by R. Shephard, ‘O Sons and Daughters’ by H.W. Davies and ‘Christ The Lord is Risen Again!’ by J. Rutter. The ‘Guys and Dolls’ revival continued with George and Joyce performing ‘More I Cannot Wish You’, delighting the audience with its lilting pastoral style. The Chamber Orchestra, directed by Doug Blew, then showcased ‘Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major’ by Mozart, with Max playing the solo part. Max chose to perform the cadenzas written by violin virtuoso Ysaye, executing them with such dizzying mastery of the instrument he seemed to hold the entire Great Hall breathless! The second sixth form band presented ‘Best Friend’ by Rex Orange Country with reduced instrumentation (and fewer expletives!) than the original as the penultimate item in the programme. Finally, sending us out with beaming smiles and greater sympathy for recovering gamblers everywhere, the Guys and Dolls Chorus and Symphony Orchestra filled the hall with their toe-tapping rendition of ‘Luck Be a Lady’. The finale featured another vocal solo from Matthew, but this time supported confidently by the Olavian rat pack crooners.
This event was a superb start to a busy period for the Music Department, with visits to Southwark Cathedral and St George's Chapel Windsor for many of our musicians over the subsequent days. Congratulations and sincere thanks go to everyone who helped put together this memorable concert. The hard work of all student and staff participants was well rewarded in what was an excellent evening enjoyed by all. It was also one of the final musical offerings from our fantastic Year 13 leavers, whose contributions will remain embedded in the rich history of music-making at St Olave’s. We wish them all well in their upcoming exams and we hope to be sending them off with fond memories and a lifelong desire to continue in their musical pursuits.