RNCM Easter Concert
Review by MGS Director of Music, Mr Rob Carey
Monday 1 April saw MGS take over the fabulous RNCM Concert Hall for the Easter Concert (the showcase musical event of the year) with over 120 pupils and 21 staff involved in performances.
The evening started with Senior Orchestra giving us selections from Bizet’s Carmen Suites 1 and 2. Part of this set was conducted by Glyn Webster from Year 13, who did an excellent job culminating in an exhilarating performance of the Danse Bohème (there are few schools in the country where pupils are capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and this is the second year running where the orchestra has been directed by a pupil in the Easter Concert) .
This was followed by Close Harmony giving us a madrigal by Thomas Morley (Fire, Fire) and an a Capella arrangement of ABBA’s Money, Money, Money. Will Jeys, who is organ scholar elect of Hertford College, Oxford gave us the finale of Vierne’s magnificent Symphony No. 6. It is fascinating to see clearly the level of coordination between hands and feet required to get around the notes in this piece when the organist is in full view and not hidden in a distant loft!
Glyn Webster (tenor) and James Wang (piano ) produced a wonderful set three pieces, the highlight for me being Schubert’s Das Erkönig. With Glyn, it is indeed rare to have such an accomplished tenor amongst the ranks of the pupils.
George Campbell (the winner of the Senior School recital class earlier in the year, gave us a beautifully programmed set, performed with impeccable musicianship and thoughtfulness.
The first half ended with a performance of John Rutter’s Suite Antique for strings, harpsichord and flute, allowing Sam Woodward to demonstrate his agility and wonderful legato tone on the flute. This piece gave the opportunity for all three of the Year 13 A-level music set, Sam Woodward (flute), Will Jeys (harpsichord) and Glyn Webster (violin) to work together closely as a team under the leadership of Mrs Bradley and the rest of the players in Stravaganza.
The second half opened with choir (numbering 80 plus) giving us stylish renditions of a Capella Miss Otis Regrets, Bare Necessities, and Good Night Sweetheart. There is no better training ground for musicians than a choir in a boys’ school where the upper parts are taken by the younger boys, who learn their trade as tenors, basses (and counter tenors!) of the future. A choir of a high musical standard and high number of pupils and staff regularly involved is a sign of a healthy and high achieving music department.
Big Band, under Mr Blackwell’s direction, followed with rousing performances of Come Fly with Me and Vida la Vida. The membership of this ensemble is similar to choir in the large age range it covers in its membership.
Thursday Singers, under the direction of Simon Hunt, with senior singers from MGS , Withington Girls' School and Manchester High School for Girls gave us an acapella Sing, Sing, Sing and a performance of Flanders Fields, composed by Paul Aitkin, to the poem by John McCrae.
Mrs Butchart’s specially-formed Jazz Band brought the house down with Portrait of Louis Armstrong, Will Jeys providing us with some virtuoso trumpet, and then Sway with Glyn Webster demonstrating his versatility as a singer amongst the infectious rumba rhythms!
The programme ended with Gershwin’s American in Paris played by Concert Band, giving a virtuosic rendition. The show being well and truly stolen by the percussion section (specifically Thorsteinn King) on car horns, and whistles amongst other things.
The Joe Anson Prize for Contribution to co-curricular music was awarded to Aaron Denton in Year 13. The High Masters Prize for Outstanding Contribution to MGS Music was awarded jointly to the outstanding Year 13 A-level set (Will Jeys, Glyn Webster and Sam Woodward).