MUSICIANS VENTURE INTO THE AVENT-GARDE FOR OUR CONTEMPORARY CONCERT

MUSICIANS VENTURE INTO THE AVENT-GARDE FOR OUR CONTEMPORARY CONCERT

The summer ensembles concert held in the Midsummer Term took on theme of contemporary classical music, with a number of offerings from living composers, including two world-premieres. A specially composed fanfare in five parts started the evening off, with the members of King’s Brass spaced evenly around the audience.

Anna Crawford’s Fragments on a Serenade, performed by the composer and accompanied by Ms. Kerby, was a huge success and its jovial and jocular nature was a welcome beginning to the programme. Rachel Cox continued the concert with a dazzling display of extended recorder techniques in Hans-Martin Linde’s Music for a Bird, before Archie Caithness delivered a fantastic Sonatina for Trumpet by Peter Maxwell Davies: a challenging, atonal piece filled with disjunct fragments.

The Wind Band, directed by Graeme Vinall, brought the first half to a close with Johan de Meij’s Aquariam and Phillip Sparke’s Klezmer Carnival – a favourite requested by Upper Sixth members.

Having spent the afternoon filling the hall piano with bolts and pencil erasers, Fiorella Barbaro shocked our ears with a convincing delivery of the first two of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.

A trio of trumpets (Messrs. Mountford & Lewis and Archie Caithness) then performed Britten’s Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury which states three individual melodies and then combines them. The initial chaos of the three seemingly unrelated melodies combining is overridden by their occasional resolution onto traditional fanfare-like material.

American Minimalism followed in the form of Terry Riley’s In C: a piece for flexible forces in which musicians play through 53 different motifs in order, repeating whichever motifs they choose and dropping out to rest and listen wherever they like. The resulting effect is a hypnotic, mesmerising collage of sounds, and credit goes to Owen Luckhurst for playing repeated quaver Cs on the piano for ten minutes to keep everyone in time.

Owen then stayed on the podium as he directed the choir in his own composition: Veni Creator Spiritus, which was originally commissioned for the confirmation service and first performed in Rochester Cathedral in April 2018.

After a Year 8 samba surprise, the Jazz Band brought the evening to a close. Their collective improvisations in Aura by Month of Sundays provided a refreshing palette cleanser before Play That Funky Music, a toe-tapping tune, executed crisply under the direction of Mr. Vinall.

The concert proved to be an exciting foray into the avant-garde and it was very encouraging that many pupils worked independently to produce items for the programme.

We look forward to the Concerto Concert on July 4th in the Cathedral.