On Sunday 6th October, 28 visiting student musicians from local schools, and nearly fifty professional orchestral players gathered under the auspices of the Merriman Concert Orchestra for a full day of rehearsals, culminating in a public concert, held in Speech Hall.

This wonderful opportunity is given free of charge to advanced local student musicians, including half a dozen Cranleigh pupils, and allows them to share a desk with a professional orchestral musician, learning at first hand the nuances of orchestral playing, receive coaching and advice, and allows them to experience a much higher level of ensemble playing than they would be used to.

This is the second year we have run this event, now under the baton of our new Head of Vocal Studies and   Choral Music, Dr Andrew Thomas, who led the event with a calm professionalism and ensured the performance was one of the best given by the Orchestra in many seasons.

Many of the music department’s full-time staff were involved as section leaders, and two of our advanced Sixth Form musicians were given the opportunity to perform solo works with the orchestra.

George Chilcott (alto saxophone) gave a subtle and polished performance of Eric Coates’ Saxo-Rhapsody, allowing his notably sensitive musicianship to shine through, and fully exploiting the lovely tone he produces across his whole range. Lina Mazzone was the piano soloist in an elegant and extravagant performance of Charles William’s film score, The Dream of Olwen, in which her strong rhythmic command and depth of tone were a particular feature.

The programme also featured hugely exciting performances of works by John Adams and Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, in which all the solos were taken by the students; a fitting tribute to the high standard of the players.