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News > School News > Musicians Produce Stunning Gala Concert

Musicians Produce Stunning Gala Concert

Oakham School’s Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir came together to produce a truly stunning evening of music at the annual Gala Concert on Sunday 17 March.
28 Mar 2024
Written by Charlotte Woodward
School News

Hosted in the superb acoustic setting of Cambridge’s West Road Concert Hall, Oakham’s talented musicians displayed an extraordinary wealth and range of talent throughout the evening. The diverse programme embraced a celebration of music by Black composers including music by Margaret Bonds and Duke Ellington, as well as a captivating suite of spiritual arrangements by John Rutter and a ’cello concerto by Kabalevsky.

The concert opened with an enthralling performance by the Concert Band, accompanied by conductor Steve Foster, of Jay Chattaway’s composition ‘Mazama’, transporting listeners to the panoramic terrain of the Pacific Northwest. Euphonious opening notes to commanding crescendos, the group captured the essence of the piece, preserving its authenticity.

Soloist George’s soulful interpretation of Duke Ellington’s timeless melody of ‘Come Sunday’ marked the 50th anniversary of his passing with reverence. ‘Duke Ellington in Concert’, arranged by Paul Murtha, concluded with a special performance unifying the Concert Band and highlighting the beauty and diversity of their repertoire.

Ethan, through his revival of Kabalevsky’s Concerto No. 1, asserted his musical maturity and expressive depth as a ’cellist, providing one of the evening’s unforgettable moments.

The Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Keith Slade, collaborated excellently throughout this demanding piece, further strengthening the delivery.

Following the concerto, the Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the musical themes and motifs within Montgomery Variations by Margaret Bonds took the audience on a journey. Inspired by the renowned writer, poet and activist Langston Hughes, the Orchestra were confident and precise with their execution of the tapestry of melodies reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Hughes’ work woven into Bonds’ masterpiece. Importantly, the significant cultural and historical context of the piece was retained through the mature performance by the Symphony Orchestra.

The second half of the concert saw the Chamber and Chapel Choir take centre stage. The Chamber Choir immediately proved their fine-tuned talents and dedication through their superb renditions of Reginal Wright’s ‘We are the Music Makers’ followed by ‘I believe in the Prince of Peace’ by Margaret Bonds.

To conclude the evening, the Chapel Choir accompanied the Chamber Choir and vocalist Sofia demonstrated her vocal control and impeccable technique in a massed choir arrangement of John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit! From the jubilant energy of ‘Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho’ to the poignant introspection of ‘Steal Away’, each spiritual was brought to life with exquisite care and execution. Rutter’s arrangements breathe new life into beloved melodies whilst preserving the authenticity and emotional depth of the original compositions.

Throughout Feel the Spirit! and the entire second half of the evening, listeners were treated to dazzling displays of vocal virtuosity as the choir navigated the intricate harmonies and dynamic contrasts with effortless grace.

An incredible night of musical talent. Congratulations to all involved and thank you to those who came to support.

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