Musicians amaze audiences on action-packed London tour
The school’s musicians impressed audiences at concerts throughout the academic year and, at the end of the Summer term, they took their talents on tour as they headed to London for a six-day trip.
The first day involved travelling down to the capital, getting checked in at their accommodation and relaxing during their evening meal.
Day two was a packed affair with an informal concert at Victoria Embankment Gardens and a formal concert at St James’ Church, Piccadilly.
The informal concert started off with the Concert Band playing ‘Dune Buggy’ (Ford), ‘North Winds Festival’ (Pearson), ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ (Perkins arr. Sebeky) and ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ (Jones arr. Vinson).
The Jazz Band (‘L-O-V-E’ by Kaempfert and Gabler; ‘Sway’ by Demetrio and Ruiz), Wind Orchestra (‘Anything Goes’ by Porter; ‘Highlights from ‘Pink Panther’’ by Mancini; ‘Selections from ‘Cats’’ by Lloyd Webber) and Big Band (‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ by Redding; ‘Doxy’ by Rollins; ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Sullivan and Peterik) continued the performances before the Junior Chamber Choir (‘Blue Mountain River’ by Dillon and Lakeman arr. Hunt; ‘Wayfarin’ Stranger’ arr. Unterseher) and Chorus (‘Medley from ‘Phantom of the Opera’’ by Lloyd-Webber) concluded the first successful concert.
The Wind Orchestra, with Upper Sixth soloist Dan Vincent, kicked off the evening’s formal concert at St James’s Church, Piccadilly.
The Junior Chamber Choir (‘Lift Up Your Voice, Alleluia’ by Albrecht; ‘Blue Mountain River’) and String Orchestra (‘Libertango’ by Piazzolla arr. Griffith; ‘Por Una Cabeza’ by Gardel arr. Martin) both played two songs before the Chamber Choir wowed the crowd with performances of ‘Fair Phyllis, I Saw Sitting All Alone’ (Farmer), ‘Hark, All Ye Lovely Saints’ (Weelkes), ‘My Good Lord’s Done Been Here’ (arr. Cloud), ‘Little Innocent Lamb’ (arr. Bartholomew), ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing’ (arr. Gilliatt) and ‘In The Mood’ (arr. Gilliatt).
The First Orchestra were the penultimate act and they started off with ‘Microconcerto for Rhythm Section and Orchestra’ by Sixth Form student Oscar Williams (who also performed a solo) before playing a medley from Badelt and Zimmer’s ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’.
The show finished with Chorus singing Todd’s ‘Jazz Missa Brevis’ (i) Kyrie, ii) Gloria, iii) Sanctus, iv) Benedictus, v) Agnus Dei).
The third day saw the musicians take to the bandstand at Alexandra Gardens for another informal concert.
The Concert Band were first up and they played ‘Soul Bossa Nova’, the ‘Main Theme from The Incredibles’ (Giacchino arr. Vinson), the ‘Theme from Superman’ (Williams) and ‘Stay Cool’ (Gassi).
The Jazz Band replicated their great performances of ‘L-O-V-E’ and ‘Sway’ and the Wind Orchestra played Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’ and ‘Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4’ by Elgar. Big Band ended their set with Kern and Hammerstein’s ‘All The Things You Are’ after playing ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and the Junior Chamber Choir delivered great versions of ‘Blue Mountain River’ and ‘Wayfarin’ Stranger’. A selection of songs from Loesser’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ by the Chorus closed the show.
After their evening meal, they embarked on a two-hour guided bus tour of London as they visited some of the capital’s landmarks, including the Royal Albert Hall.
The following day started off with a tour of the National Theatre. They then made their way to St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden for the final concert of the trip.
The concert followed the same programme as the St James’ Church concert, with the Wind Orchestra (soloist Dan Vincent), Junior Chamber Choir, String Orchestra, Chamber Choir and Chorus again impressing with exceptional performances. The only change saw the First Orchestra substitute ‘Microconcerto for Rhythm Section and Orchestra’ with ‘Highlights from Jurassic Park’ by Williams.
Day five was a well-earned full-on tourist day for the pupils. They enjoyed a boat cruise down the River Thames before disembarking at the London Eye for a ride. After lunch, they went to the Royal College of Music for a tour, museum visit and a Gamelan workshop. The day was rounded off with an evening performance of ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Theatre Victoria.
Before they headed home on the sixth and final day, the musicians visited Tower Bridge for an exhibition – and to take in some stunning views!
Director of Music Mr Michael Dow said: “It was an absolutely fantastic trip and a real pleasure to perform in some amazing and highly prestigious venues in London. The concerts were all of an incredibly high standard, reflecting not just the wonderful talent of our pupils but also their hard work throughout the year.
“It was great fun enjoying so many of the sights and activities that London has to offer and everyone seemed to have a really good time. I am so impressed with how helpful all of the pupils were with all the logistics of moving large amounts of instruments and equipment around each day. Without exception, they were all absolutely brilliant with this.
“They were a joy to be with throughout the week and I really enjoyed their company. They are a very special group of people and they should all be incredibly proud of what they have achieved. As ambassadors for the school community as a whole I cannot commend them highly enough.”
Speaking about the trip, Fifth Year pupil Anna Collins-Room said: “I really enjoyed being involved in performing in the concerts – especially in the churches – and getting to know more people from school who enjoy music.
“I also greatly enjoyed the tours of the Royal College of Music and the backstage tour of the National Theatre, giving access to parts of London that tourists don’t usually get to see. The Indonesian Gamelan workshop was also great, where everyone tried a new form of music as a group and it worked spontaneously.”
Lower Sixth student Lily Amet commented: “Being able to show a different community our talent, alongside just having fun and enjoying ourselves, was really memorable. A highlight for me was the tour around the National Theatre as it helped give me an insight into how hard people work behind the stage and the effort that goes into making a really amazing show.”
Second Year James Caine added: “The tour was brilliant. We went on some great trips and it helped me expand my number of friends in different years that share similar interests to me.”
Lower Sixth student Louis Beer said: “The tour was a brilliant experience, from playing concerts at a wide range of venues, to visiting the sights around London and enjoying various activities with friends.” Fellow Sixth Former Joe Hughes concluded: “It felt great to finally perform in a public venue again after lockdown. A great way to end the school year!”