Review: Orchestral & Ensembles Concert

Category: Music, General, Events

This is always the most moving concert of the year as we say goodbye to the leavers who have put in years of hard work and dedication.

Sporting their traditional red rose and standing for their individual ovation, they sum up what it is to be a Marlburian! The evening began with the Master cutting the ribbon on a new conductor’s rostrum, which had been beautifully crafted by Hattie Cockerill (MO U6), as part of her Design Technology A level.

Brasser opened the concert with the mysterious and haunting fantasy suite ‘Ghosts’ by Stephen McNeff. Each movement opened with Lucy Hudson (EL L6) reciting extracts of poetry and prose. Her timing and delivery was absolutely exquisite. The band came to life with the sound of eerie, ghostly chains and demonstrated superb rhythmic and dynamic clarity. The party atmosphere was then ignited by the tradition of playing ’The Final Countdown’.  Musically, this could not be called ‘high art’ but the audience were left in no doubt that the students were enjoying themselves.

The Chamber orchestra followed with Janá?ek’s Andante from his Suite for Orchestra. Rich and indulgent, this work is extremely early in his output and could well be mistaken as Dvo?ák. Hattie Cockerill (MO U6) returned to the front of the stage to perform as the oboe soloist in ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ by Morricone. She caught the atmosphere wonderfully with her mesmerising interpretation of this well-known theme tune from ‘The Mission’. The last two pieces by the Chamber Orchestra were pure delights! I have never seen so many smiles on stage as they positively danced their way through ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Plink, Plank, Plunk’, by Leroy Anderson. The latter (by popular demand) is played completely pizzicato and requires real commitment to project the sound to the back of the hall. This they managed ‘in spades’! This was Adrian Eales’ final appearance as the conductor of Chamber Orchestra and the smiles radiating from the students were a great reminder of how much he is loved and respected. He will be sorely missed.

By way of contrast, the Symphony Orchestra opened with the rousing ‘Dambusters’ March’ Displaying rich colours and real physical engagement, this could have passed as a professional performance. The mood was broken when Georgia Ashworth (MO U6) came on to the stage to perform the more reflective and gentler ‘Romance’ by Beethoven. This work is deceptively difficult but Georgia produced an acutely sensitive rendition. Most remarkable was her incredibly mature approach to her playing. At all times the music came first – exquisite tuning, broad and beautiful lines and an astonishing understanding of the long arch of sound required.

Continuing the more introspective mood, Thor Kverndal (C1 U6) treated us to one of the greats of the piano repertoire. The slow movement from Grieg’s Piano Concerto is rhapsodic in feel and Thor commits fully to the Romantic vein. He draws his audience in with his flamboyant gestures, teasing us through every musical nuance.

The final work was Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’. A perfect end to a glorious concert, this work displays a wonderfully healthy patriotism. As it drew to a close, I could see the tears welling up in the eyes of the leavers. Let us all hope that they continue with their music-making through university and for many years to come.

Clare Toomer
Deputy Head of Music  

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