Video: Ensembles & Orchestral Concert

Category: Music, General, Pupil Achievements

As a member of the audience, it is always a wonderful treat to attend our annual side-by-side concert with the Southbank Sinfonia.

As a Marlburian instrumentalist, it is a real privilege to play alongside some of the finest young professional musicians in the country. This wonderful opportunity raises the aspirations of our players, and gives them the unrivalled experience of professional music making. The quality of this evening’s performances was amongst the best I have heard in my time here.

VIDEO: Click here to watch

As is traditional, Brasser, led by Georgia Gibson (U6 EL), opened the show, establishing the concert’s pastoral undercurrent with Vaughan Williams’s Flourish, and Down a Country Lane of Copland. Jay Chattaway’s Mazama, a tribute to the rich culture of the Mazama Indians of the Pacific Northwest, was performed with energy and drive. Particularly notable were the more unusual instrumental requirements of the piece: a Wild West ocarina motif, as well as chanting and shushing from members of the band themselves.

Although very much a team effort, showcasing the whole department at its best, tonight the spotlight was on two of our most able and talented musicians, Helena Mackie (MO U6) and Sarah Mattinson (MM U6). Accompanied by the String Chamber Orchestra, Helena took to the stage to perform Vaughan Williams’s Concerto in A minor for Oboe and Strings (1944). This was a beautifully crafted and communicated performance. Helena negotiated the virtuosic articulation with ease, and the long, soaring cantabile phrases were the epitome of both breath control and musicianship. Our second soloist, Sarah Mattinson, took to the piano for the second movement (Adagio sostenuto) of Rachmaninov’s celebrated Piano Concerto No. 2, accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra. This wonderful work has moving moments of longing and nostalgia as well as frenetic virtuosity, and Sarah’s performance captured this with style and panache; it certainly had the feeling of a musical whole rather than being simply a soloist with orchestral accompaniment.

The Symphony Orchestra rounded off proceedings with Berlioz’s entertaining and, at times, bombastic Roman Carnival Overture, a deceptively difficult piece which couldn’t fail to raise a smile. The Symphony Orchestra proved themselves once again to be the most accomplished and versatile of groups, aided by the wonderful players of the Southbank Sinfonia, from whom several of our musicians had received specialist tuition over the two-day residency.

Hearty congratulations to all involved in this life-affirming experience. The final and loudest Bravo must, of course, go to the magnificent soloists, Helena and Sarah. They give so much to the musical life of the school, and it was a wonderful occasion on which fellow musicians and non-musicians alike could celebrate their work and talents.

Alex Hodgkinson
Choirmaster & Academic Music Teacher
Twitter: @MCol_Music

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