The School Concert (1957-58)

The School Concert (1957-58)

By Mr. G. M. Demmery

AUDIENCES have their rights, and so perhaps it will not seem churlish to mention that a consistently high standard of performance was maintained within a two-hour time limit, and that coffee was to be had in the middle of the proceedings.

The performers, for their part, got considerable satisfaction from the thought that everybody taking part - soloists, choir and orchestra were members of the school. They were grateful to their audience for coming to listen to them, and particularly to Mr. Jefford, whose efficient business arrangements made it possible to show a profit from the concert, out of which nearly half an oboe has been bought. Funds provided by the Parents' Association made up the balance.

No music-making can ever be a nine days wonder, least of all in school: new boys must continually be brought on and the experienced ones will leave. The basis of a good orchestra in school, and the core of most corporate music-making outside school, is a good body of string players. Boys who are really interested in musical activities, if the editor will forgive this intrusive didactic note, should try really hard to persuade their elders to let them have private lessons once they are off the nursery slopes - say from third or fourth form level. They will then be given the time and attention necessary to make their playing interesting and enjoyable. Meanwhile, in school, three 'cellists and fifteen violinists are having lessons, and one intrepid first-former last year had himself measured for the double-bass.

The orchestra proved its existence at the concert commendably enough; bowing and intonation were well controlled, and the pieces by Lully, Handel and Bach much enjoyed.

Dryden's "corded Shell " had evidently been visualised by Mr. Tilbrook as a tuba in his wittily devised programme. But we do actually have a tuba, on loan, and Mr. Lee was seen holding it. In one piece, gently but firmly, it was indeed brought into action. The Brass Group can be an embarras de richesse in sheer quantity of sound, in a small school orchestra; in their own items they were mostly successfully able to have a good blow yet still be nicely balanced. Musicians noted that eminent classical composers are being challenged by Mr. James, whose industry in arranging and writing pieces for his players is matched only by their industry in practising them. With Mr. Charlton playing his cornet, the Brass Group are a formidable body of players.

The Choir contributed live songs by Purcell, accompanied by a Chamber Orchestra: in this latter, the Headmaster and Mr. Rose on the violin, and Mr. Winter on the viola, were supported by the five most competent instrumentalists among the boys. Mr. Thomas's attractive tenor voice was a good augury for future choral ventures. Our Royal Academy of Music students played a piano trio - they are beginning. quite clearly, to realise what chamber music is - and the Headmaster led his string quartel firmly and sweetly through a part of Haydn's * Bird” quartet. Litolff's "Scherzo" was performed with great brio on two pianos. In the rest of the concert. the soloists, who must give way in a school magazine to the group music-making, were of a very high Standard indeed.

The concert was arranged and the orchestra conducted by Mr. Demnery.


Extract from 1957-58 School Magazine


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