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senior-music-scholarsIt is tradition that the new musical year at Cranleigh is ‘kick-started by’ recitals given by the Music Scholars, and wholly appropriate that the leading musical talent in the school should ‘hit the ground running’, leading the way in the packed performance year to come. Last Friday was the turn of the Senior Scholars. Head of Performance, Richard Saxel, who provided his expert piano accompaniment to all the performers, pointed out wryly in his introduction that it was a test of our young performers’ mettle to be prepared for performance so early in the term, and perhaps of how much practice had taken place over the long summer holidays!

This year sees a record number of Music Scholars in the Sixth Form. Fourteen existing are joined by Toby Chesser and Christian Oldfield, former Exhibitioners who, through their exemplary contribution to the musical life of the school over the last four years, have been awarded Scholar status for their Upper Sixth Form. Jonathan Marsh is a new Music Scholar joining the Lower Sixth this term. A fine French Horn player, pianist and singer, Jonny made his debut on the horn this evening. It was clear that Jonny was determined to prove his worth in his first Cranleigh performance. The beautiful and challenging Notturno by Franz Strauss received a deeply musical performance with real passion and fire – a great start to his musical career in the School.

A feature of this year’s senior scholars is the broad range of instrumental prowess they bring to the Woodwind, Strings, Piano and Vocal departments. The many fine performances this evening were too numerous to comment upon individually, but it would be wrong not to mention a few highlights. The exquisite recorder playing of Bethany Porter. Always well controlled and with neat ornamentation, Bethany showed just what a beautiful instrument the recorder can be in the right hands. Emma Grainger (clarinet) tackled the challenging Andante-allegro from Brahms’ 2nd Sonata with real drama and great musicianship. Two fine cellists in Zoe Dixon and Deescha Chandrasma both brought out the mood changes and wistful melancholy of Ravel’s Pavane for a dead Princess and Dvorak’s Silent Woods respectively. Krzysztof Widera should also be praised for his very stylish performance of the deceptively difficult Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. He managed to capture just the right tempo to bring out the impish charm of the syncopation, fully adhering to the composer’s directions that Ragtime should never be played too fast!

The performers were: Saskia Hogan (flute), Soo Choi (violin), Lizzy Paton (Clarinet), Bethany Porter (recorder), George Pettifer (piano), Jonathan Marsh (French horn), Freddie Hawes (piano), Emma Grainger (clarinet), Christian Oldfield (voice), Toby Cheeser (voice), Zoe Dixon (cello), Joshua Wilson-Khanna (voice), Ellen Talbot (clarinet), Deescha Chandrasma (cello), Daniel Evans (saxophone), Krzysztof Widera (piano), Harry Simmonds (voice/guitar).

A great start to the musical year and we look forward to hearing the Junior Music Scholars next week.

Marcus Pashley
Director of Music