Review: Orchestral Concert

Sunday evening’s Orchestral Concert in the Memorial Hall was not a school concert. It was a concert. It showcased the kind of technical accomplishment for which one would hope (but not always get) from professionals, and left the audience delighted and uplifted.

Some of its success was down to the details of presentation – the way the players walked onto the stage, the poise with which they tuned, how smart they all looked. The programme notes were excellent, the newly refurbished Memorial Hall sounded stunning (an engineered mix of resonance and clarity), and the evocative artwork that accompanied the Sviridov’s Romance was the visual icing on the auditory cake.

But above all it was the playing. Under the dynamic leadership of Pia von Wersebe (CO U6) and the exacting batons of Hector Scott and Philip Dukes, the three ensembles (String Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Strings and Symphony Orchestra) played with precision and passion. Special mention is deserved by Pia’s section leaders: Poppy McGhee (NC Sh), Miya Scott (MO L6), Issy Haynes (from St John’s, Marlborough), André Stamp (B1 L6), Alexandra Dunlop (MO L6), Alice Wood (MO L6), Jess Faber (CO U6), Emily Ambrose (MO Re), Timon Staehler (C2 L6), Ben Spink (SU L6), Nicholas Fletcher (CO U6) and Florence Tuckey (EL L6). Leaders by name. Leaders by nature.

Specific moments of exposed and confident playing punctuated the evening. The flutes of Alex Dunlop (MO L6) and Kitty Astor (MM L6) soared across the orchestra at the end of Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, and Matthew Valetsky’s (CO Hu) saxophone solo in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was rambunctious and jolly.

It was a lovely concert, which left me pom-pomming Prokofiev’s famous theme (perfectly described in the programme as “pompous and angular”) for days after, and wondering what it must be like to be Alan Sugar.

It also left me happy at the prospect of many more concerts like it. Not school concerts. Concerts.

To the String Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonia Strings and the Symphony Orchestra: thank you for a lovely evening.

Ed Tolputt
Deputy Head (Academic)

You may also like