Last Friday a large audience enjoyed the annual Pat Dixon woodwind performance as part of the broader Helen Wareham competition at Cranleigh School. It’s a rare opportunity within the school’s busy calendar to exclusively hear the strength and depth of the talents within our woodwind department and we were treated to an evening of exceptional quality throughout both the Junior and Senior sections. The competitive element of the Pat Dixon prize seemed to galvanise each player and there was a clear determination to win from all performers. Further, aside from the obvious range of instruments offered, the variety of musical and performance style made the adjudication a genuinely challenging task and, on another evening, many of the performers could have received awards. That said, as in all competitions, there can only be one winner (well, three in the seniors but I think my meaning is clear!) and I’m pleased to report that in the Juniors the following awards were given: third prize was awarded to George Chillcott (alto saxophone) who was particularly praised for the sensitivity of the sarabande in Grovlez’s Sarabande and Allegro. Second prize went to Jazz Davis (flute) who gave an impressively stylistic recital of Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major and first prize was awarded to Reuben Gray (tenor sax) for his extrovert and virtuosic performance of Nigel Wood’s Schwarzer Tanzer.

After the interval the competition was turned up a notch as the seniors did battle for the three places on offer in the Helen Wareham final on the 3rd March. There was some genuinely outstanding performances from many of the competitors but ultimately the performers put through were Ellen Talbot (clarinet) for her poised Piece en forme de habanera by Ravel, Beth Porter (recorder) who captured the mystique and lyricism of Lennox Berkeley’s Sonatina and Emma Grainger (clarinet) who invited the audience to imagine dancing round the campfire to Leo Weiner’s Peregi Verbunk (Hungarian folksong).

The evening was a genuine treat and I would like to congratulate all our performers and the wonderful visiting music staff in the woodwind department for their work with our talented young players. I look forward to hearing the senior finalists in March and the juniors at ‘Encore’ in the summer term. 

Andrew Thomas
Acting Head of Woodwind and Brass