The concert held in Speech Hall on Friday 12th October in aid of Rowleys 50+ centre was supported by Cranleigh Lions and Cranleigh Rotary Club. The audience was a mixture of young and old, school and village, but the performers were all young: the talented musicians of Cranleigh School. Head of Cranleigh Music, Marcus Pashley, introduced the evening by noting that the Cranleigh Prep School Choir are regular visitors to the Day Centre to entertain its clients. Indeed, the School’s relationship with Rowleys dates back to the days of Rowland House, whose residents enjoyed weekly visits from our pupils and also attended School concerts.

The music began with a first half of classical composers, including Bach and Beethoven, closing with the popular ‘Rustle of Spring’ by Sinding, played by Hebe Westcott. All the solo performers: Hebe; Ian Lee, Deescha Chandrasama and Zoe Dixon (violoncello); Ben Rudolf (violin); Rachel Hurst (bassoon); and Harry McCagherty (oboe) seemed to enjoy expanding their performances in the acoustic of the larger Hall, following earlier recitals in the MMS. Ian’s interpretation of the Bourrèes from the Bach Suite in C had really grown, with a strongly expressive contrast in the middle section, and a great variety of tone in the outer. Ben took more risks and increased the warmth in his tone in Beethoven’s Spring sonata. Deescha and Zoe blended with purely matched intonation and Rachel found an aptly woody and dark tone for Hindemith. Harry played his Grovlez showpiece beautifully (Auden’s line ‘Let the florid music praise’ came into my mind) with an allegro as perky and bright as a clear, flowing stream. Hebe made a warhorse sound like a thoroughbred, relishing the tone of the Steinway.

The Wind Quintet also blossomed in the large space in an enjoyable version of Sousa’s ‘Liberty Bell’, known to many through its use as the ‘Monty Python’ theme. A special highlight was Phoebe Bagge (soprano), Timothy Ayling and Bethany Porter (recorders) in the Bach aria ‘Sheep may safely graze’.

In the second half the School’s chamber choir, Cranleigh Voices, under Marcus Pashley moved the large audience (via the inescapable John Rutter) into a lighter mood with Irving Berlin and Gershwin. It was a special pleasure to hear tenor Ed Griffiths back in the choir. The climax of the evening was the 20-strong Big Band under Bandmaster (and Cranleigh Parish Councillor) Bob Wilson, whose six-strong set included ‘Moon River’ as a tribute to the late Andy Williams, and whose popularity elicited demands for an encore (a repeat, at a challenging tempo, of ‘Witchcraft’. The stylish soloists included Tom Cooper (saxophone) and Noah Frett (trumpet). Bob Wilson, who is also Head of Community Service, adds, “It was a great pleasure to organise this concert for such a good cause: the Rowleys Day Centre is a vital part of the life of older Cranleigh residents. We are always delighted to welcome villagers of all ages to the School’s concerts to join our faithful audience of parents and pupils and Common Room”.

PJL