By Giacomo Pozzuto, Music Teacher
As the audience enjoyed a final encore of Goodnight Sweetheart from the particularly fine Chamber Choir last month, we had a chance to reflect on the successes of the school musicians this term.
A gargantuan effort was required by all of them to produce such a wealth of variety and sheer polish for this year’s concert, to honour the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia, and in aid of the John Badley Foundation. The music community at Bedales are thankful for their time, effort and expertise.
The evening’s entertainment began with Concert Band thumping, albeit with extreme sensitivity, through Dave Gorham’s wild-west-bareback-riding Compton Ridge Overture. It was a particularly strong performance from our brass and percussion, who in turn showed their own turn in smaller ensembles throughout the evening. The percussion ensemble took us to Hawaii via The Four Freshmen and Poinciana and brass ensemble transporting the audience to the candlelit halls of 16th century Bavaria.
Chamber music has proved a particular highlight of this term’s work and our cello ensemble with Will Lithgow at the helm sailed expertly through a transcription of the first movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and, more cerebrally, A-Ha’s Take on Me arranged expertly by the man himself. “It seemed a good idea at the time,” he told the audience about the piece, which was performed complete with synth drum patches for that ’80s airbrushed feel!
The School Orchestra gave the audience a consummate rendition of Vaughan Williams’s pastoral idyl Linden Lea, highlighting a particularly homogenous and sensitive string section, then stirringly romped through Mendelssohn’s Marsch der Priester from Athalie.
Our massed choirs have been working particularly well in refining their quality and production of sound. Chamber Choir provided real polish to the evening accuracy and complete poise in delivery of three difficult pieces. Choir’s stirring representation of Aston’s So they gave their bodies to the commonwealth – entirely apt for this year and this month – and Haydn’s Insanae et Vanae Curae brought together all ages, abilities and personified music’s true community spirit.
Barbershop offered a tantalising morsel into the work they have been doing this term to broaden their repertoire – we’ll hear more from them very soon I’m sure.
Finally, we heard from the Jazz Band, which is growing in strength and quality with excellent solos from both staff and students and an early stocking-filler from Aiden ‘Buble’ Hall.
The musicians are indebted to Doug, Will, Giacomo, the incredibly talented visiting music staff for their expert guidance as well as Neil Hornsby for running such a slick show and to Cathy Knowles for her warm, comforting matriarchal presence in the Music School (and her constant supply of cakes!)
The evening raised £1.5k for the John Badley Foundation, which offers financial support through bursaries, giving more young people a chance to benefit from the transformational opportunity a Bedales education can provide.