Cranleigh Christmas Concert 2023

On Friday evening, the Christmas concert took place in the Speech Hall, and featured all of the school’s major ensembles, which have…

On Friday evening, the Christmas concert took place in the Speech Hall, and featured all of the school’s major ensembles, which have been preparing their performances throughout the term. The concert was attended by the whole of the Lower 5th year, together with many parents, friends and supporters. As Mr Saxel explained to the audience in his introduction, the music in the programme spanned over 400 years, and reflected the music department’s strong commitment to diversity.

The evening opened in great Venetian splendour with the Brass Ensemble playing a Canzona by Giovanni Gabrieli, divided (as was common in Gabrieli’s day) both specially and musically into different “choirs”, with the music bouncing to and fro between them. The Symphony Orchestra was next up, led by Oscar Gratton, and conducted by Gandalf the Grey (a.k.a. Dr Thomas) in a performance of the Symphonic Suite from “The Lord of the Rings”. This was followed by the suitably festive “Christmas Overture” by the British-Sierra Leonean composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Mr. Eaglestone and the Symphonic Wind Band then ramped up the mood with “Rampage” by Todd Salter, followed by some highlights from the film score of “Black Panther”.

After the interval, the Sax Group made its Cranleigh School debut with a sleek, confident and jazzy rendition of “All in good time” by Karen Street. The String Orchestra, under Mr. Weaver’s steady baton, then captured the balmy, Iberian spirit of the four contrasting movements of “Capriccio Espagnole”  by the Russian composer, Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakov. By tradition, it then fell to the Big Band to round the concert off, and after performing two groovy numbers by two jazz legends, Charles Mingus and Herbie Hancock, they were joined by the School Choir to round off the concert in festive spirit with three traditional Christmas songs.

After what has been a particularly long and busy term, with everyone feeling fairly exhausted, these musicians are to be heartily congratulated for their commitment and dedication, and for providing an evening of such entertaining and varied music-making.

Mr Richard Saxel, Director of Music

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