For many years Cranleigh has welcomed the musical talents of Chichester’s Prebendal School. With a strong musical ethos, including its Cathedral Choristers, Prebendal has encouraged numerous excellent musicians to audition for music scholarships at Cranleigh. To celebrate this long standing relationship, we held a Symphonic Wind Band workshop on Tuesday 26th April in Cranleigh’s beautiful Chapel. Members of the Cranleigh School Symphonic Wind Band were joined by twenty-seven Prebendalians aged from 9-13.
The workshop, directed by Ruth Williams, was followed by a short concert for both Cranleigh and Prebendal parents. Taking advantage of the flexible seating arrangements in Chapel, the workshop was held in front of the main altar, and took advantage of the wonderful acoustics afforded by the newly laid limestone flooring. The Chapel looked and sounded splendid.
The afternoon was spent learning three pieces, and pupils from both schools worked hard in readiness for the concert. The students worked together brilliantly and it was a real joy to see them socialise together during the breaks, where they enjoyed letting off steam on the lawns in front of Chapel.
The first piece in the concert was ‘Earth and Sky’ by Michael Sweeney. The composer was fascinated by the Native American Omaha tribe who believed in the crucial and inseparable bond between Earth and Sky, so much so that they designated each member of the tribe as either an Earth person or a Sky person. Sweeney took this idea and used the woodwind players to represent the sky, the percussion to represent earth, and the brass to bond the two elements together. The piece featured a strong rhythmic ostinato which was brilliantly played by Tom Hollister. Tom is an old Cranleighan and Prebendalian as well as a former chorister at Chichester Cathedral. He now studies at the Royal College of Music and has returned to Cranleigh to teach percussion. We were very fortunate that Tom was able to help out with the workshop and concert.
‘Lux Aurumque’ (light and gold) started its life as an a capella vocal piece written by Eric Whitacre. The composer himself was commissioned to re-score the piece for symphonic winds and the effect is wonderful. One of the most difficult aspects of playing a wind instrument is the ability to play in a controlled and sustained manner, whilst constantly listening to others and ensuring that intonation doesn’t waiver. ‘Lux Aurumque’ is an excellent exponent of these challenges and sounded glorious in the Chapel. It was also a delight to see upper sixth form oboist Fayruz Megdiche encourage Prebendal’s nine year old, Coby, to play the short solo at the start of the piece.
The finale of the concert was an exciting arrangement of tunes by Danny Elfman. Famous for his numerous film scores including, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Desperate Housewives and The Simpsons, his music is catchy and a great deal of fun to play. Elfman’s music has an unmistakable style and the arrangement performed epitomised this perfectly. The themes from Dark Shadows and The Corpse Bride were flanked by arguably his most well-known theme from the 1989 score of Batman. It was clear that everyone involved enjoyed performing this as much as the audience loved listening to it.
The afternoon was a huge success and one which ought to be repeated in the future. Long may Cranleigh and Prebendal enjoy a fruitful musical relationship.
Head of Woodwind and Brass