Ensembles & Orchestral Concert

Monday 4th March 2024

The Ensembles & Orchestral Concert, involving a collaboration with the Southbank Sinfonia (our professional orchestra in partnership) is always a highlight of the year for our pupils. The weekend involves side-by-side rehearsals, one-to-one lessons and culminates in this collaborative concert. There has been a mixture of excitement and mild trepidation amongst the pupil body as they have waited to be tutored, guided and encouraged.

The concert opened with Dana Wilson’s Sang performed by Brasser and led by Olivia L. This certainly dragged the players out of their comfort zone and into a new world of rhythmic chanting and responsive playing. The end result was both uplifting and inspiring. As a contrast, the Hymn-like When the stars began to fall presented us with a beautiful sorbet before the sometimes aggressive and driven Rampage by Todd Salter. It was marvellous to see three of the Marlborough College Malaysia exchange pupils joining the rank of flutes (impressive after such a short time!)

Sinfonia Strings is a wonderful performance vehicle for our younger string players. Supported by the Southbank Sinfonia and led by Kate L, they performed Todd Parrish’s Boreas. A new piece for most of us, but one that I am sure will return! It was an ideal piece for pupils to explore techniques, within a less exposing group setting.

The Chamber Orchestra performed three delightfully contrasting pieces – Succession theme by Britell, performed in subdued lighting and driven by Paloma J on the drum kit, was a striking and powerful opener. Dag Wiren’s Serenade fitted well into our Nordic theme for this academic year (look out for our collaboration with the History of Art Department next term): an energetic and sparkling performance that genuinely conjured up the image of Sweden’s glorious scenery. Finally, Tchaikovsky’s indulgent and tender Elegy showed the string department at their very best. Soaring melodies (which Tchaikovsky seems to write with ease) throbbing syncopations and a contrasting, dramatic middle section all went to create a rich, warm performance.

The Symphony Orchestra, led by Dima M, grasped the opportunity to play Bruch’s Romance for solo viola – surely one of the most sublime pieces written for this instrument. Lottie V, our soloist, is a seasoned performer who will be continuing her studies at Music College in September. It is not easy to bring out the required projection on a middle tessitura instrument but Lottie seemed totally at ease and soared her way through this noble score and all with a smile on her face. Every phrase had been musically crafted, with a clear interpretation which squeezed the Romance out of every line.

The final piece was the Overture from the Mastersingers of Nuremberg by Wagner. A classic of the orchestral repertoire – big, bold and demanding. It is long and incorporates so many different characters and moods. It challenges each and every section of the orchestra but all of the players rose to the challenge to produce a stunning end to an excellent concert.

Our thanks goes to the three conductors, Mrs Stagg, Mr Arkwright and Mr Dukes for the encouragement and guidance they have given in the weekly rehearsals.

Clare Toomer
Head of Academic Music

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