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​London Concert 2015

On Friday 23 September 2015 Bryanston pupils returned to St Paul's Knightsbridge for the annual London Concert.

The annual London Concert really is one of the highlights of the Bryanston year. Not only does the London Concert showcase the extraordinary range of musical talent in the school, it also reflects an impressive level of effort put in by all concerned to deliver such a first-rate event, during which I always have to remind myself that these are pupils performing.

This year the very highest of standards was, again, aspired to and achieved with an engaging, varied and well-paced programme which opened with a decidedly French flavour. Poignant and moving, the Prélude from the Pelléas et Méllisande Suite and the Élégie in C minor by Fauré were delivered by the Orchestra with real grace, enhanced beautifully by Evie C’s outstanding solo performance on the cello in this equally-haunting second piece. The Chamber Choir sustained the atmosphere of French sophistication with Duruflé’s Note Père, a simple but exquisitely pure setting, which provided a most effective contrast with the much grander and more Teutonic chorus from Haydn’s Creation, the well-known The Heavens are Telling, which was sung to magnificent acoustic effect from the Chancel. A return to a more intimate sound was very well judged; the String Chamber Orchestra’s delightful performance of Respighi’s transcription of an anonymous lute piece from the 15th Century was very well received by the audience before the Orchestra concluded the first half. Adam FW’s accomplished and soulful singing of Leave from the musical Once provided some more modern textures before we returned to France for the first movement of Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1, with a stunning performance by Harry EW.

The rest of the concert was more American in character. Proclamations by Rob Romeyn lived up to its title and was a delightfully flamboyant way for the Concert Band to open the second half and Sophia E’s poised saxophone solo in Harlem Nocture took us back to the late 1930s’ jazz and big band era. The Amaris Choir, who were on fine form this year, then treated us to two fine pieces. Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You was smooth and struck an effective balance between sentiment and reserve, after which All of Me by John Legend gave them scope for a more expansive sound. A particular highlight for me came next with the Allegri Choir’s near-flawless offering of Sure on This Shining Night, a sublime piece by Morten Lauridsen, which added a note of tender melancholy before the Dance Band’s grand finale. Following his success in last year’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, the classic Ain’t that a Kick in the Head was the perfect choice for Sam W, whose suave rendition had the audience on their feet at the end. The title of this final item in the concert turned out to be most apposite. Cool and confident solos by Poppy H on piano and Wilf H on tenor sax gave added flair to this great piece of swing jazz and left me thinking that when it comes to school music, Bryanston is, indeed, at the cutting edge.

Ian McClary, Head of Sixth Form