The annual Christmas Concert (Speech Hall, December 5th) showcased a wide range of the School’s ensembles. The Symphony Orchestra under Marcus Pashley gave us four pieces with the Mendelssohn ‘Nocturne’ (MND) showcasing Tim Ayling, one of the many fine horn players among current pupils. He was also in the quartet of the Chapel Brass who gave us a ‘Christmas Medley’, followed by the young musicians in the Concert Band complete with comedy whistles and duck noises from Tom Hollister OC and colleague. Ruth Williams led a slick performance by the Symphonic Wind Band of Adam Gorb’s 1996 ‘Awayday’ (inspired by ‘the great days of the American Musical Comedy’) and a bluesy, blowsy, hand-clapping, foot-tapping and joyful rendition of Harold Walters’ medley ‘Hootenanny’ (1963). Another festive treat was the accomplished calling birds of the Wind Quintet led by flautist Joshua Wilson-Khanna in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’.
The musical highlight of the evening was an astonishingly accomplished performance of Purcell’s ‘Chacony’ by the String Orchestra under Kevin Weaver: over two dozen players with only five adults as ‘bumpers’. The opening of Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ was nearly as impressive: in both the clarity of textures and the centred intonation were remarkable for such young string players. As always the entertainment highlight was the closing set by the Big Band (a notable solo by Chris Oldfield) and, as before, I can’t help falling in love with Berry’s arrangement of the famous Elvis number.