This year has seen the formation of a school choir which functions as a regular group. A choir of any real quality cannot be obtained by merely gathering together an assortment of musical boys for a specific occasion: on the contrary it takes a considerable time and requires much hard work to master the vocal techniques needed for even the simplest ensemble singing. The School is very fortunate in possessing a number of boys prepared to devote their time and energies to this end, and they deserve congratulations for the quite considerable success they have already achieved in this field.
Their first public appearance was at Speech Day when they sang I Will Give My Love An Apple arranged by Vuaghan Williams, The Herdmaiden's Song in which Denis Scotchmer sang the treble solo, and Willcocks' arrangement of On Christmas Night. The musical success of the evening was, however, the orchestra's performance of movements from Handel's Water Music, the last movement of which was repeated as an encore, distinguished rather for its exuberance than its accuracy.
At the end of the term there were two carol services, one in the afternoon, for members of the School, and the other, in the evening, for parents and general public. The evening service was more elaborate, containing more carols for the choir which were sung very well. This evening service was much appreciated by those who attended it, and it is hoped that it will become a regular feature of the School's musical activities. We must record the considerable help given us by Barry Rose who played the organ at both services.
The brass ensemble in the School has been working hard and the enthusiasm of this group is beginning to show real results. They were able to play at the Founder's Day Service which was enlivened by their fanfares and interludes. The whole School did not hear the woodwind group, ably directed by D.J.Bramhall, who entertained the guests at the dinner in the evening.
Rehearsals are in progress for a performance of Faure's Requiem and other items on Wednesday, May 9th. This is the most ambitious project attempted at the School, necessitating many hours of careful preparation, and involving nearly all the musical boys in the School. We are hoping that this will be of a very high musical standard as a work of this nature demands. It is a most beautiful composition and if we are able to do it justice it will be a great achievement.
During the summer term, the School Music Department has successfully performed two concerts.
The first was serious in nature, the main work being the quiet and beautiful Requiem by Faure. This was the first time for many years that the School Orchestra and Choir had combined, and considering this, the performance had many fine points and was a great success. The school was ably helped m this by Mr. John Barrow, the baritone soloist, and Mr. Barry Rose who played the organ, and special mention must be made of Norman Ellard, who sung the 'Pie Jesu' solo very attractively. In the first half, the brass and woodwind groups played several short pieces competently, and Messrs. Barrow and Rose performed some Duparc songs with artistic and musical confidence.
The second concert, in three parts, was in a lighter vein, and consisted of a good variety of short items, and a light comedy operetta, which was the second part. In this, the soloists were David Spelman, Lesley Hollingbury, David Chatterton and Norman Davis, all of whom contributed to a performance which gave much amusement and pleasure to the audience. The lack of operatic experience in these four showed very little, and credit for this convincing production must go to David Wigston and Timothy Goodes.
The School Orchestra opened the first part with a dazzling performance of the Overture to Iolanthe by Sullivan, and, later, the strings performed the Serenade from Hassan by Delius with David Wigston movingly reciting the associated poem, Yasmin, by Flecker. Heraclitus by Stanford was the Choir's opening work, and following, were two fine arrangements of the folk tunes 'I will Give My Love and Apple' and 'The Herdmaiden's Song'. At the end of the first part, Choir and Strings combined to perform 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring', the chorale by Bach, in which the obligato oboe was delightfully played by Richard Bramhall. The other soloist in this half was John Telford who gave a light, musical rendering of two pieces by Kriesler, and played the beautiful violin solo in Hassan. John, who has now left the school, has led the Orchestra for many years, and has given it considerable help, for which the members are truly grateful.
In the last part, notable items included uproarious performances by the brass of 'Seventy-Six-Trombones' and 'Brass Band Boogie', a light hearted male-voice quartet arrangement of 'Old King Cole' and some spirited playing of the Orchestra in the 'Jazz Pizzicato' and 'Wearing of the Green' by Leroy Anderson. At the end of the concert this last piece was encored in accordance with popular demand.
The success of these concerts was due to the hard, but nevertheless, enjoyable work of everyone concerned, and special mention must be made of Mr. Garth Morton, the new string teacher, who has generously given his time to play the violin in the Orchestra at these concerts, and help the brass group out with his expert tuba playing. However, the hardest worker of all has been Mr. Moffatt, who has supplied inspiration for all the boys' work, and by setting his own high standards and persevering with them without ever losing his sense of humour has brought the School's music to its present, unprecedented high standard.
The Choir is now preparing for this year's Carol Service, and other activities will include outside recitals and an evensong at Guildford Cathedral.