The School Concert (1958-59)


By Mr. G. M. Demmery

The purpose of a school concert is primarily to give young people an opportunity to perform in public. The music must be such that players of modest technical achievement can perform it with competence, but it must also be of intrinsic worth and it should give pleasure to the audience. The concert of 1959 met all these requirements, and a varied and stimulating programme was enjoyed.

It was pleasing to see a number of senior boys in the choir, which is now no longer completely dependent on the staff for the tenor and bass lines. The singing of madrigals is a good musical discipline, and examples by Morley, Dowland and Byrd were well enough performed to arouse interest in music of the period. In the songs by Elgar and Parry the range and balance of tone were exceptionally good and brought out the sure touch of both composers in writing for voices. In complete contrast was Matyas Seiber's arrangement of "Three Hungarian Folk Songs". The dissonances are not as violent as might be expected from an exponent of 'twelve-tone' music, and the songs were obviously much enjoyed by both choir and audience.

Many so-called school orchestras have to import players for their concerts. It is most creditable, therefore, that the boys themselves played flutes, clarinets, oboe, trumpets and trombones, supplied the leader of the orchestra, the three 'cellos and the double bass, and with help from the Headmaster, Mrs. Cordery, Mr. Rose and Mr. Winter, provided five first and five second violins and two violas. Five probationary violinists played a third violin part. The Purcell Suite included the main theme from the 1694 Birthday Ode - the "Air " - and gave them an opportunity of showing some contrasts in tonal colour. The Handel music was played by the strings stylishly and with a pleasing warmth of tone. The Grieg pieces, offered as a romantic contrast to this earlier music, were played adequately, but did not quite reach the high standard of some of the other items.

The brass group is very lucky in being served by Mr. James. His excellent arrangements, particularly, in this concert, of the French tunes, give them an opportunity of playing together which might otherwise be denied to them for two years or more. Mr. Lee had polished his tuba so that the bright lights dazzled all who looked upon him; Mr. Charlton's skill added precision and zest; while a quartet of two trumpets and two trombones, sustained entirely by the boys, was particularly creditable.

The contribution by the school piano trio, the piano solos by T. Hyde and A. Hymas, the 'cello solo by C. Van Kampen, and the treble solo by D. Olley all reached a high level. Mr. Thomas sang with his customary musicianship, and two movements of a Mozart string quartet were played by the Headmaster, Mr. Winter, T. O'Brien and C. Van Kampen.

In the interval a most enjoyable promenade was possible on this fine June evening, the coffee bar being managed by the concert's most efficient business manager, Mr. Jefford. Mr. Tilbrook's programme makes a delightful and witty souvenir of an event, the warmth of which is lost to us all too soon. The writer of these notes hopes that the request for violins and trumpets, or indeed any musical instruments, will fall somewhere on fertile ground.

The choir was trained and conducted by Mr. Rose and the brass group by Mr. James. The task of organising the school's second concert was undertaken by Mr. Demmery, who also conducted the orchestra.


Extract from 1958-59 School Magazine


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