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HMSSO Concert Lent 2015March 3rd, 2015
The Concert held at St Mary’s Church on Thursday 12th February brought together the most talented musicians and soloists from both HMSG and MS. The programme offered to the audience was both challenging and exciting for the performers, and displayed a level of musicianship that was breathtakingly good.
During the first half of the concert, the musical items were provided by the HMSG Orchestra. To begin with we were treated to a spirited and characteristically jaunty performance of the William Mathias ‘Serenade’, featuring Diana on Harp.
This was followed by three songs from HMSG Music Scholar and Prefect, Lucy. Her rendition of ‘Après un Rêve’ was captivating and beautifully evocative, and her voice was resplendent as it soared through the rafters of St Mary’s Church. It is an extremely mature soprano voice for someone of her age. This elegant song was followed by a charming and early Italian Operatic aria which gave her voice plenty of opportunity in which to caress those wonderful Italian lyrics. The final item was a little heard song by the popular and celebrated Welsh composer Ivor Novello. ‘My life belongs to you’ is an extremely sentimental proclamation of love which was featured in the hit musical ‘The Dancing Years’. It is a ‘weepy’, and Lucy imbued the song with all the heartfelt emotion that this song needs. It is hard to believe that this wonderful instrument belongs to a young lady who has yet to reach her 18th birthday.
The final item was a little known and seldom performed Trombone Concerto by the Norwegian Composer Ole Olsen. In fact the performance was only the second time it had been performed in this country, making it a Welsh premiere. The soloist was HMSG Music Scholar and prefect Rhiannon who has performed extensively throughout her time at HMSG. Although only 15 minutes long, the Olsen is a demanding work which abounds with sparkling pyrotechnics and technical passages which would test even the most mature and professional exponent of the trombone. Rhiannon’s performance was a ‘tour de force’ and clearly demonstrated why she is in such demand as a soloist and as an orchestral player. She proved to be a persuasive advocate for this work which needs to be heard far more often that it does.
The second half featured the HMSSO, The Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Symphony Orchestra which this year was conducted by Mr David Lawson, Director of Music at Monmouth School. As conductor, you are able to choose the repertoire you wish the pupils to perform, and this year the programme was exceptionally varied; enjoyed just as much by Mr Lawson as by the pupils.
La Forza Del Destino Overture by Verdi proved to be an exhilarating opening. With so many dramatic twists and turns in the music it was pure theatre, and established the level of musical excellence we would hear during the rest of the evening’s programme. I wonder how many people in the audience recognised the ‘Stella Artois’ theme floating through the music at various times.
Next was ‘The Typewriter’ by Leroy Anderson, which is so much fun to play and also to listen to. Special mention has to be made regarding Zac, the typewriter soloist. This was a virtuoso performance on an old instrument in which the keys would occasionally stick just to add to the drama of the performance.
This was followed by the suite from ‘The Comedians’ by Kabalevsky. An excellent choice which gave every instrument and section of the orchestra a moment in which they could shine and be prominent. The ‘Galop’ was particularly exciting and included a distinctive and toe-tapping xylophone part.
After so much great music the concert concluded with another classic in every sense; Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. This has to be on everyone’s listening list especially during Halloween. The bewitching hour releases the spirits from their graves and the Dance of Death begins. The virtuosic violin part was played by William who gave a highly authoritative account of this spellbinding music.
The Concert was a great success and a retiring collection raised over £300 for the nominated charities; Starlight Foundation and Ty Hafan.
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