Orchestral and Ensembles Concert

The concert opened with Brasser’s masterful performance of Just a Closer Walk with Thee demonstrating total dynamic control and bringing to life the varied genres of this eclectic piece. The bar was therein set and the tone of the evening firmly established. Sleep allowed the ensemble to exhibit their full tonal colour; Whitacre’s music is infamous for its intricacy, with demanding cluster chords at every turn. Alex Arkwright navigated this challenge with aplomb, the group vividly painting Silvestri’s text.

A stand-out moment of the concert – and perhaps of this reviewer’s life – was the rousing rendition of Highland Cathedral, replete with pipers and featuring the hitherto untapped potential of Jonathan Swift’s mastery of the instrument. An audible force to be reckoned with, Brasser – and Caledonian friends – put to the test the Memorial Hall’s acoustic conditioning.

Next was the Chamber Orchestra; a more contrasting musical performance one cannot imagine! In all three pieces, the group demonstrated a refinement and intimacy which beautifully befitted the more introspective repertoire. Emily Ambrose (MO Re) is to be exalted for her total poise and delicacy in Vivaldi’s Recorder Concerto in C minor. The word “virtuosic” can often be hackneyed but here it is perfectly appropriate.

The slow movement of Bruch’s Violin Concerto was rendered ravishingly by Pia Von Wersebe (CO U6), her rich tone filling the space every bit as comprehensively as the earlier skirl of bagpipes, and the ever-impressive Symphony Orchestra supporting the soloist with a sonority almost as luminous as Philip Dukes’ conducting smock. The evening was rounded out with Walton’s Crown Imperial. This expansive piece allowed the fiery brass department to come to the fore.

Crown Imperial was written for the coronation of George VI in 1937. A coronation is a jubilant, yet bittersweet, event celebrating the new whilst bidding farewell to the old guard. A fitting conclusion, then, to this jubilant, yet bittersweet occasion: a valediction for the departing Upper Sixth. They will be deeply missed but it is heartening to see the younger talent hot at their heels, leaving us in no doubt as to the surety of the College’s musical future. Bravo indeed.

James Bartlett
Graduate Music Assistant (2017-18)


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