The inaugural Guitar & Percussion Competition was a new opportunity for musicians to showcase their talent and hard work on instruments that have traditionally not featured in what was the Helen Wareham series of competitions. There was far less emphasis on the ‘competition’ element of this concert, replaced with a relaxed vibe where the audience and performers revelled in the opportunity to watch and listen to live music from a range of genres and decades. What was typical of Cranleighans was their support of each other during soundchecks and rehearsals; all of them eager to see what they’ve been working on and how they can improve.

The drummers got a great sound from the kit, particularly the kick and hi-hats. Some excellent work is happening in their own practice to achieve balance and control. All the drummers also proved they could bring a little, or a lot of physicality into their playing so the rhythms would sit ‘in the pocket’. Plenty of style and flare was on show with fills and improvisations. An honourable mention must go to Monty’s opening performance of ‘Spirit of the Radio’ by Rush. Mr Reader even commented how fantastic it was to be taken back to sing Rush live at Wembley in his youth.

Electric guitarists all turned their hands to songs with a healthy amount of overdrive and distortion. These tones were exemplary in all cases and highlighted just how important it is for guitarists to understand the different components that contribute to their sound (their guitar body, pickups, pedals, amp head and cab). The two acoustic guitarists in the senior section highlighted two different styles of playing, one finger-picked, one strummed. Jacob’s performance of ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton featured the melody line interweaved with Clapton’s original accompaniment. The warm, crisp tone achieved again shows attention to the setting on the guitar’s pickup and acoustic amp. Skye’s performance of her original song leans on the strumming styles found in a wealth of country and folk songs; an all-acoustic performance being a good choice for blend with her voice.

The sole bassist in the competition, Richard, gave a sophisticated performance of Jaco Pastorius’ ‘Portrait of Tracy’. It is refreshing to see a Lower Fifth Scholar enjoying repertoire from this iconic bassist. We are lucky to have a strong group of Lower Fifth musicians who are broadening and diversifying their musical tastes – a set of trailblazers who are shaping Music at Cranleigh for the future.

Winners

Junior Guitar Jamie T. ‘Eruption’ by Van Halen
Senior Guitar Jacob B. ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton
Junior Percussion Elliot E. ‘Starsky & Hutch’ by Matt McDonough
Senior Percussion Digby N. ‘Rope’ by Foo Fighters