Last Friday, 13th June, saw the return of Crispian Steele-Perkins to Cranleigh School for his concert, ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound.’ The world-famous trumpeter joined our very own Philip Scriven to give a varied programme from the Renaissance Cornett music of Byrd to Bacharach’s much-loved film music from ‘Alfie.’
The concert began with Handel’s majestic Sinfonia played on the same piccolo trumpet that he used to record the famous theme music from Antiques Roadshow. The audience was immediately taken by his delicate and subtle playing coupled with the balanced and sensitive ensemble of trumpet and organ. As a specialist in historical instruments, Crispian performed his next piece by Purcell on a re-production of an instrument from 1694. With no valves to work with, it was astonishing to hear the accuracy of articulation in the faster passages, together with the impressive dynamics achieved.
No concert in the Cranleigh School Chapel would be complete without an organ solo from Philip Scriven, the first of which was one of Bach’s early works, the Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532. The work demands a sparkling display of virtuosity and our Organist in Residence did not disappoint. It was written in Bach’s obituary that he could play things with his feet that most organists would struggle to play with their hands, and this was certainly demonstrated here. In the second half Philip performed ‘Choral Song’ by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, of the Wesley dynasty, famed for the family’s contribution to Church music. During his time as organist of Exeter Cathedral, S.S. Wesley wrote this piece for the chamber organ at Killerton House. Although originally intended for much smaller forces, Philip captured the essence of the piece beautifully and it was equally suited to the larger pipes of Cranleigh’s Mander Organ.
Perhaps the highlight of the concert for many was ‘Shackleton’s Cross’ by Howard Goodall and I found myself pleasantly surprised by this piece. Inspired by Edward Seago’s painting, this work depicts a cross in South Georgia, overlooking Antarctica, which is dedicated to the memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton who died in 1922 whilst on a Polar expedition. The work perfectly portrayed wide-open expanses and the trumpet entry wonderfully depicted the sun rising over the horizon. The warmth of the organ and the stillness of Crispian’s sound produced a beautifully evocative and sensitive portrayal of this haunting work. The audience was utterly captivated with many people listening with closed eyes in quiet contemplation. ‘Shackleton’s Cross’ is a stunning piece and certainly one to recommend for further listening.
The second half of the concert delivered the standards of the trumpet repertoire that Crispian is so famous for playing. Beginning with the popular Prelude to Charpentier’s ‘Te Deum’ many brides, including myself, would have been transported back to their wedding day with this wonderful piece. Crispian did, however, take great delight in reminding the audience that the work was also used for many years as the theme music to the Eurovision Song Contest; how times have changed!
Finally, the concert was brought to a grand finale with none other than Stanley’s Voluntary in D. Crispian was in his element and could not have failed to notice the smiles on the faces of everyone listening. The delighted audience demanded an encore and who better to have the final word than Henry Purcell with his ‘Trumpet Tune’. This wonderful concert was a rare treat, enjoyed by all, and we hope to welcome Crispian back to Cranleigh in the near future.
Earlier in the afternoon the trumpeters of Cranleigh School were treated to a masterclass by the world-famous trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins. Noah Frett and Oliver Parker represented the Senior School and Bella Fearn and Jacopo Bounous joined them from the Prep School. Crispian’s session was tailored around the history of the trumpet through the years. He brought with him a suitcase of ‘bits’ and talked the students through the developments of the instrument from the trumpet found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, through to the hunting horn of the 15th century, and all developments to the present day. A particular highlight of the afternoon was Crispian’s talk about the physics behind the production of sound on a trumpet. He explained that the length of the tubing was all that mattered as opposed to the material used. To demonstrate this further he performed an extract of Handel’s Water Music on a hosepipe! The class was fun and hugely inspiring and will certainly provide our trumpeters with food for thought in the years to come.