Friday evening’s concert featured the eight Junior Music Scholars in repertoire ranging from Vivaldi to Elton John, and with a variety of instruments and voices. The quality was tangible, and each performer presented their piece with impeccable stage manners and professionalism, despite their relative youth.
For the new Fourth Form, this was their first public event in their new roles, and yet both Hannah Scriven (voice) and Lily Harding (piano) gave nerveless, superbly controlled and moving performances. Hannah’s Ombra mai fu by Handel was sung with a warm simplicity of expression and total security of technique, and was beautifully accompanied by her father. Lily gave a moving account of Frank Bridge’s Rosemary, classily avoiding an overly sentimental approach; relying instead on beauty, contrast and control of tone, and showing real power in the stronger sections.
The Lower Fifth are more experienced performers, and each gave strong accounts of themselves. Dominic Fellows (trombone) delivered arguably the performance of the night in a virtuosic rendition of Saint-Säens’ Danse Macabre, which was full of energy, exceptional technical control and verve, whilst Bashi Slater’s louche and stylish account of Elton John’s Your Song showcased his fluent and imaginative playing, with some interesting and creative chord substitutions.
The Upper Fifth are old hands by now, and showed their experience in some challenging repertoire. William Marshall’s voice has developed into a rich baritone, and he gave a memorable rendition of Vaughan-Williams’ The Vagabond, striking just the right balance of world-weariness and enthusiasm to remain perfectly in character, and convincing us that a life on the open road was the life for him. Noah Charlesworth gave a sensitive and detailed account of the second movement of Vivaldi’s A minor Cello Sonata, phrasing with subtlety and precision, and alive to the changing harmonies and syncopated rhythms, whilst Henry Rigden (piano) gave a lively account of Turina’s Fiesta, implying the dance rhythms and sultry atmosphere of Iberia with panache. This is a tricky piece, but Henry was well in control of its challenges.
Jacopo Bounous rounded the evening off with a rumbustious performance of John McCabe’s Jigaudon for trumpet, revelling in its syncopated rhythms and using a good range of tonal colour.
An enthusiastic audience enjoyed this short but high-quality evening, and after this coming Friday’s Junior Exhibitioners’ Lunchtime Concert (October 12) all of the 7-18 Music Award holders will have performed in public during the first half of the Michaelmas term.