Music (1963-64)

MUSIC 1963-64

By Mr. J. C. Spurgeon

Is the autumn of 1962 the Choral Society spent some time in preparing Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms" for a performance, in conjunction with two other schools, in the Speech Room at Harrow. Later in the term there was the usual Junior School Concert, and at Speech Day, choir and orchestra combined in special arrangements of music by Fauré and Handel. At the St. Nicholas Day service the choir sang the "Ave Verum" of Mozart; and the Carol Service was cast in an unusual form and included excerpts from Bach's "Christmas Oratorio".

The orchestral course in the Christmas holidays was run for the first time under the direct auspices of the County Youth Committee. This meant an immediate rise in the standard; and much of the conducting was undertaken by Mr. Michael Rose, the County Music Adviser. The programme included movements from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto, and Malcolm Arnold's "Little Suite".

In the spring term a chamber concert was mounted for the Parents' Association; the basis of the programme was the solo instrument with string accompaniment, and we enjoyed the help of several visitors, notably Janet Eggleden, who joined the string players in the Weber Clarinet Quintet, and Cyril Heels, who played the Bach Violin Concerto in A minor. From our own members, David Gray played Purcell's Sonata for Trumpet and Strings, and Christopher van Kampen the Boccherini Cello Concerto.

In the Easter holidays we enjoyed a Sunday reunion of the Course Orchestra, at which a quantity of music was most efficiently read. Then in the Summer term the Choir and Orchestra each entered the local music festival and won their (very small) classes. Finally, at the May Concert, many of the items we had used through the year were played again; and the second half consisted of Bach's "Peasant Cantata", sung by the Choral Society and conducted by Brenda Capon.

Light music occupied the remainder of the year, with performances at an old people's beanfeast in Eastcote, and in the teashop at the annual school fête.

The current year began with a new venture - a House Music Competition for the Junior School. The intention of this was twofold: to create some demand for boys to take the initiative in music making and to act as a pilot scheme for a more ambitious House competition in the future. Although the event afforded a quite entertaining and instructive evening - largely thanks to the adjudicator, Mr. Rose it was only partly successful, as standards frequently betrayed that things had been left till the last minute, and too much work had been thrown on the staff. Those senior boys who really made an effort to prepare their House entry learned a great deal which should lead to a more profitable festival next year.

Choir and orchestra prepared music together for St. Nicholas Day and the Carol Service: the climax of the former was the setting of the "Old 100th" by Vaughan Williams; while the latter, in addition to some rousing congregational carols accompanied by the orchestra, included unaccompanied carols of Basque origin, arranged by George Oldroyd.

The term ended with a most exciting impromptu performance of "Messiah", sung by parents and friends with members of the Choral Society (some 350 voices), with young professional soloists and an orchestra of some 40 parents and visitors.

A further youth orchestral course was held in the holidays, and the programme was even more ambitious than before, including music by Shostakovich, Sibelius and Malcolm Arnold.


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