Gala Concert 2018

Sherborne musicians were in full force at this year’s spectacular Gala Concert on Friday which, featuring the Radio Orchestra and the Wind Band amongst several other ensembles, totalled well over one hundred performers. The evening opened with a medley of songs from Les Misérables, played by the Wind Band and conducted by Head of Woodwind Clare Jackson. With over seventy boys in the band, there were opportunities for some very loud playing, yet in both this piece and the Nocturne from Holst’s A Moorside Suite conducted by Head of Brass Andy Fawbert which followed it, there were moments of beautiful pianissimo which were all the more remarkable for the number of musicians, of all levels of ability involved. 

The Music Scholar Wind Quintet gave an outstanding performance of Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers, arranged by Graham Sheen, and proved once again to be a chamber ensemble of great skill and musicianship, performing music which even professionals consider to be demanding. The Chamber Choir, conducted by Director of Music James Henderson, sang Palestrina’s Sicut cervus by popular request of the large number of Leavers in the group (Jordan Berry (U6a), James Pyman (U6e), Charlie Smith (U6g), Will Thorne (U6e), Harry Vincent (U6g), Charlie Barker (U6b), Tom Dudgeon (U6d), Peter Folkes (U6a), Henry Jones (U6g), Ben MacLean (U6b) and Joss Nelson (U6e) before singing more staple Gala Concert repertoire Witchcraft and Over the rainbow in arrangements by Paul Drayton, accompanied on the piano by Head of Keyboard Benjamin Davey.

Mozart’s tricky Divertimento in B-flat, K137 proved the Chamber Orchestra, directed from the viola by Head of Strings Lucy-Anne Allen, to be on finest form with some really excellent and confident playing by the strings. Led by Charlie Barker (Exhib.Mus U6b), the orchestra has flourished this year and particularly shone both this evening and in the Sherborne Abbey Festival in May. 

No Gala Concert is complete without the Jazz Band, directed by Anthony Ingle from the keyboard, and this year featuring new upright bass player Gary Xu (Exhib.Mus L6b) alongside brilliant Tom O’Sullivan (Exhib.Mus 4d) on the drums and retiring guitarist Hector Lea (U6d), Leavers Hori Byrne (Schol.Mus U6a) on the trumpet and Sam MacDonald ATCL (Schol.Mus U6c) on the sax. David Roper’s The Pleasure Principle seems never to tire, but Horace Silver’s Song for My Father was a welcome addition to the band’s repertoire, even if its inclusion caused Toads of the Short Forest to be notable for its absence after particular popularity at ‘Dinner and Jazz’. Fergus Burtt (Schol.Mus 4c) proved, once again, to be an adept improviser on the clarinet.

Possibly the highlight of the evening was the so-called ‘Radio Orchestra’, led alternately by Leavers Charlie Barker and Jordan Berry, and conducted by Director of Music James Henderson. Light repertoire included Eric Coates’ By the Sleepy Lagoon (of Desert Island Discs fame) and Leroy Anderson’s Forgotten Dreams and then, adopting the full luscious orchestrations by Nelson Riddle, the orchestra, complete with full and rich strings section, performed Frank Sinatra favourites You make me feel so young; New York, New York; and You do something to me with vocalists Harry Vincent, Charlie Barker and Charlie Smith respectively.

Two tear-jerkers by the Close Harmony/Barbershop group brought the evening to a close: Bob Chilcott’s soupy arrangement of Billy Joel’s And so it goes and finally that all-time-favourite by Arthur Sullivan—The Long Day Closes.