Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20
This year HMSSO (Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools Symphony Orchestra) will be directed by Mr. Harris, Director of Music at Monmouth Girls. The repertoire is ambitious: Marquez’ Danzón No 2, Malcom Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances and Hanz Zimmer’s Theme from Batman. The brilliant team of orchestral tutors will give small-group tuition before the 70-piece orchestra comes together for a full-read through. The first workshop is Sunday 17th November at MG and the performance is Tuesday 11th February 2020 in the Blake Theatre at Monmouth Boys.
Chapel Choir sing at Salisbury
The Chapel Choir made their annual trip out to sing Evensong on 26th April, this year to sing at Salisbury. With canticles written for King’s College, Cambridge by locally-born Herbert Howells, pleas his setting of the Hymn to St. Cecilia, it was a big sing, but there was a large congregation and Rui gave us an excellent tenor solo in the Nunc Dimittis. Needless to say, Burger King had visitors on the way home.
Symphonic Serenade delights in May
On Thursday 2nd May 2019, there was music resounding from the main hall at Monmouth School for Girls as three fantastic music ensembles took to the stage to show case all their hard work and entertain a very appreciative audience in our annual Symphonic Serenade Concert.
Although an alternative venue this year, the evening began with Monmouth School for Boys’ Brass Ensemble playing Liberty Bell, Go Down Moses, The Magnificent Seven and Gonna Fly Now.
An entertaining jazz set from MOJO then followed, who very ably directed themselves with the help of Joe Smith on Piano. They displayed some excellent solo improvisations in pieces such as The Chicken, Dirty Dozen, Lean On Me and Sing, Sing, Sing; The Chicken was also used for a GCSE Ensemble live recording, a first for this concert!
After a short break to re-set the stage, it was the turn of Symphonic Winds. Under the direction of Sarah Fowler, they made an exciting start to their programme with their arrangement of “Welcome to the jungle”, first performed in 2015. This was followed by A Klezmer Karnival, Putting on the Ritz, Eighties flashback and Disney Spectacular. The set finale was a wonderful medley from The Greatest Showman.
The Symphonic Serenade Concert was the Monmouth School annual Leavers concert. This is always a bittersweet concert as we say goodbye to so many who have played such a huge part in the musical life of the school. Huge thanks and praise was given to four Year 13 boys and girls for all their commitment and dedication to their ensembles; this would be their last performance with their respective ensembles at Monmouth Schools.
All of the musicians had great fun performing on the night and were a fantastic example of the talent here at Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth School for Girls.
Choral and Orchestral Concert showcases musical talent
This year the Choral and Orchestral Concert had most of the familiar ingredients – 220 singers from both schools, Symphonic Winds, a massed choral work, professional soloists – but there was a novel factor in the mix.
The concert opened with Symphonic Winds giving us a very polished account of Moment for Morricone and The Greatest Showman, among other things. The band looked, and sounded, spectacular under the baton of Miss Fowler and was well-received by a near-capacity audience. The stage was then cleared for the new departure; two works by the US avant-garde composer John Cage. The Percussion Ensemble, coached by Mr. Hathaway used our huge batterie de percussion, including prepared piano, tuned gongs, timpani, thunder sheet, tam tam and watergongs, to give an assured performance of Second Construction in Metal of 1940. But it was the performance of Water Walk which came close to stealing the show, with its consciously absurdist use of food processors, a bathtub, white noise, a pot-plant, party-poppers and soda-syphons to cast a sideways glance at some of the mores of the New York school. The performance clearly delighted both audience and the choir seated behind alike.
The concert then moved to the performance of one of the great works of the eighteenth-century, Mozart’s stupendous Requiem. The effect of the voices and orchestra together, singing music of such power and intensity, is understandable only if one was there, and it was enhanced by the sensational line-up of soloists, two of whom are OMs. This power is perhaps given a further gloss knowing that all of the full-time music teachers of both senior schools had played a big part in preparing the choir, and to them should go sincere thanks.