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Outstanding quality shines during Music Festival 2019

Gifted musicians from the Senior School impressed audiences during this year’s Music Festival with beautifully sounding pieces delivered with great personality.

The guest adjudicator for the day was Mr Niall Doherty, the Director of Music at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire. Mr Doherty trained as a flautist and pianist at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has over thirty years’ experience as a teacher and adjudicator and he imparted very useful advice and praise to our young performers, saying: “The quality of music here is outstanding, with such breadth and diversity. I can say, without doubt, this is the best Music Festival that I have ever had the privilege to be involved with.”

The festival began bright and early with the Second Year Instrumental Solo class and eight fantastic performances. Lucy Smith (2Q, cello) was commended, but it was Sam Burrows (2P, euphonium) who won this class with a lively and engaging performance of ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off’.

The First Year Instrumental Solo class saw Anna Stevens (1R, violin) win with a sensitive performance of ‘Siciliano and Allegro from Concertino in D’ by Kuchler, and Archie Hoyle (1S, drums) and Lucy Vine (1S, piano) were commended.

The Third Year Instrumental Solo class was full of drama and pupils demonstrated plenty of grit and determination as they delivered outstanding performances. Each competitor gave their utmost but it was Talia Zelhof’s (3S, oboe) performance of Vaughan Williams’ ‘1st Movement, Oboe Concerto’ that narrowly won with Patrick Owen (3S, trumpet) and Ben Wood (3S, clarinet) being commended.

It was then on to the Junior Ensemble class with a range of styles and groups on show, including First Year rock band The Lakes and a violin duet. First Year pupils Mia Krywonos (1Q) and Evie Davies (1Q) performed a lovely vocal duet to be commended but it was the trio of vocalists Ella Moran (3S), Liv Dow (3S) and pianist Talia Zelhof (3S) with a classy performance of ‘Laudamus Te’ from Vivaldi’s Gloria who won this class.

The Junior Vocal Solo class showed excellent diversity with a mix of boys and girls and a range of styles. Third Year pupil Ella Moran gave a very mature performance of ‘Voi Che Sapete’ by Mozart, demonstrating fantastic character and expression for one so young, and won. First Year pupil Tilly Wolstenholme was commended.

After a well-earned lunch break, the afternoon session featuring the Fourth and Fifth Year Instrumental Solo and the Fourth and Fifth Year Vocal took place. This was an afternoon of extremely high quality right from the outset. With a large class of 10 performers showing their skills in the Instrumental class, the audience were blown away by performance after performance that were all virtually flawless. Daniel Vincent (4H, euphonium) and George Zelhof (5W, piano) were commended but a spine-tingling performance of Kreisler’s ‘Praeludium and Allegro’ by Zoe Shah (5W) was adjudged to be the winning performance and Zoe also deservedly won the String Cup.

The Fourth and Fifth Year Vocal Solo class was also of extremely high quality. Grace Shropshire (5S) and Lucy Grundy (4U) delivered heartfelt and emotional performances but it was a fabulous display by Natalie Bennett (5T) of ‘Gia il sole dal Gange’ by Scarlatti that stole the show.

The evening classes continued to witness a really high standard of performance. The Senior Instrumental Solo class could have been won by any of the four performers, all well beyond Grade 8 standard, but Pippa Brown’s (L3, alto sax) performance of Phil Woods’ ‘Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano’ was astonishing – featuring a mix of jazz and classical styles and improvisation in both the sax and piano parts and it was no surprise that Pippa also won the Wind and Brass Cup and the Adjudicator’s Cup for this outstanding performance. Alex Pollard (U3) was commended for his violin playing.

Niamh Johnson (U5) was the winner in the Senior Vocal class for the second year running with an excellent performance of ‘I Didn’t Plan It’ by Bareilles. Phoebe Micklefield (L2) was commended for her soulful performance of ‘Dani California’ where she sang and also played the guitar.

There was much frivolity during the Senior Ensemble class, which was particularly large this year with over 15 acts auditioning. There was huge variety and diversity in the type of acts and range of styles – including a cello quartet, flute duet, female vocal quartet and string quartet.

The audience were impressed by Holly Buckley (5P) and Grace Shropshire’s (5S) beautiful duet of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and they thoroughly enjoyed the bluesy vibe of Sarah Callow (L8) and Matthew Howling’s (5W) clarinet duet, and both of these performances were commended. Any number of these acts could have won but the overall winners were the Fourth Year Jazz Band of Emily Edwards, Will Insley, Gabriel Keeble, Daniel Vincent and Oscar Williams who delivered a lively rendition of ‘Have a Good Day’ which was co-written by Oscar (music) and Gabriel (lyrics).

Further winners in the evening were Lauryn Howard, who won the Flute Cup, and Ella Moran who won the Most Promising Lower School Musician.

Director of Music Mr Michael Dow was equally delighted saying: “The results don’t really matter to me; what is clear is that we have so many pupils who clearly love music and love performing. Today has been a wonderful celebration of the outstanding quality of our musicians and I am immensely proud of every one of them.”

Huge thanks to the parents who came to support and to Niall for adjudicating.