Music Events Round-Up

Category: Music, General, Events

In this busy time of year music is bursting out everywhere as it should. The Goodison Hall, the Ellis Theatre and the Chapel have all hosted events recently, with the Mem Hall still to come.

On lunchtime on Friday 4th December, a student-led concert entertained us with a sequence of good variety: an unexpected but deft piano improvisation (lost piano music offered an opportunity), a short well prepared flute piece, a Brahms intermezzo, 'Stormy Weather' calmly given, and finished with a very enjoyable performance of the first movement of the Bach Oboe and Violin concerto.

Watching student accompanists grow in confidence was a huge pleasure, and the lively spirit of co-operation and endeavour in the room was as enjoyable as the music itself.

Watching students grow and learn from their music-making was apparent in the Ellis theatre on Sunday evening too. Some arrive with panache - a young timpanist at full throttle at the back of the hall was an unmissable delight, and some develop more gradually. The string orchestra opened with a Haydn movement and the Corelli Christmas concerto (being named Arcangelo, and with a mother called Santa, Corelli can perhaps have had little choice in writing this). The soloists (Lizzie Daniels (IH U6), Bel Guillaume (CO U6), Bella Bryan (IH U6)) have the experience now to be chamber players together, drawing in the others through their communication. One or two younger violinists towards the back of the section were concentrating too hard on their parts to share in the visual signals, but this will come with time.

Leaping a continent and two centuries brought the Oklahoma overture, conducted by a ducal cowboy. Who else? The newly arrived woodwind and brass players almost seemed to be rocking on a chair and strumming a guitar as they played, though there was one of those too. Another cowboy in the gallery segued into a characterful rendition of ‘Oh what a beautiful Morning’. What a lovely voice is growing there. Seeing him walk out of the oboe section in normal concert dress later to reprise his solo showed how versatile some of the College musicians are - the timpanist had also reappeared with a trombone.

Another able soloist, Rhys Barnes (C1 U6), performed the suite for viola and small orchestra by Vaughan Williams. Jolly Broadway gave way to a lyrical vision of the English countryside with the change of tone immediate and evocative.

The concert finished with the first movement of Dvorák’s New World symphony. The brass section always enjoys a good bit of Dvorák and this was no exception, with the whole orchestra benefiting from the obvious accomplishment of its exceedingly able leader, and dedicated conductor, to bring a rousing conclusion.

Twenty-four hours later in the Chapel a small group of singers gave us Compline. Obviously familiar with the demands of plainsong and renaissance motets, they brought a lovely sense of intimacy, peace and stilling of the self’s loud voice, in preparation for what is to come, whether the end of the day, or the Christmas dash, was irrelevant.

Julia Daniels (OM)

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