The annual Cranleigh Music 7-18 Showcase Concert highlights the progression our young musicians make during their time at Cranleigh, and this year’s concert was of notably high quality. The senior school Scholars’ Choir began the concert with a beautifully controlled version of Bruckner’s Locus Iste, responding sensitively to the sophisticated and detailed direction of Dr Thomas, and creating a magical hushed atmosphere. Their junior counterparts, the Prep School Chamber Choir, are always well-prepared and professionally presented under the direction of Mrs Beddison, and they offered a lovely arrangement of the hymn Seek Ye First, followed by a sensitive rendition of I am a small part of the world. The purity of their sound and clarity of diction was notable for a choir who are comparatively young, they handled the different vocal lines confidently; Alfie B. singing the solo ending with great control and a lovely tone.
Three advanced violinists performed; each showcasing different strengths. Oscar G., our new Lower Sixth Music Scholar has a commanding stage presence, sumptuous sound and a real understanding of the music he plays, Charlie M. plays with elegance, refinement, and with a sophisticated musical approach, and Anna C. has a beautifully sweet tone across the whole instrument, and an ability to sustain the musical line even in the highest register. They each performed a solo piece, as did two young organists, Theo S. and Josh G., who coaxed a wide range of interesting sonorities from the Mander Organ. Our Organist-in-Residence, Mr Scriven, accompanied two young singers, Bella S. and Anise R. in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater; their singing from the gallery a particularly effective and musical performance as both girls have an intuitive understanding of musical phrasing and how to shape the musical line, allied to a strong understanding of the text they were singing. Two advanced musicians from the prep school performed as soloists; Dominic S. is a pianist of great promise, and he gave a lively account of Malcolm Arnold’s The Buccaneer, before William H.’s authoritative and mature account of Vivaldi’s Vieni, Vieni hinted at a beautiful tenor voice in the making.
Mr Eaglestone brought together 17 brass players of all ages in a robust performance of John Williams’ The Throne Room from ‘Star Wars’; a tangible measure of the progress of our integrated music departments. It was wonderful to see young prep school musicians able to play alongside older children (even if one was so small he had to stand on a chair to stay at the same height as his desk partner)! This ensemble has huge potential, but more importantly has been a source of real enjoyment from all who took part in it. There is no other department in the school in which a cross-year activity spans a ten-year age range, and the benefits extend far beyond the musical achievement of these pupils.
The senior School Choir closed the concert with A Million Dreams from ‘The Greatest Showman’ and a clever segue into Sir Michael Tippett’s spiritual Steal Away. This large ensemble featured many young singers who had begun their own musical journey at the Prep School, and who are now leaders of the main senior school ensembles, and highlighted the progress made over several years. Dr Thomas drew a lovely sound and a wide range of expression from this ensemble of nearly forty singers; a large and appreciative audience responded enthusiastically, and so our musical year is well underway.