Music is back at GHS

This was the first mixed-year ensemble concert for 18 months and the first concert at school with a live audience since before the pandemic began. It was therefore very good to mark the occasion with fantastic music, performed by outstanding young musicians. Both the Senior Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra only reformed about a month ago, so to put on a concert of this standard speaks volumes for the players and singers.

Highlights of the evening included the choir’s joie de vivre in Chilcott’s ‘A Little Jazz Mass’, the sumptuous 4-part singing in ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ and ‘Try to Remember’, and the rich tenderness of the choir and soloists in Esenvald’s ‘O Salutaris Hostia’. In this piece the soloists, Alannah Enskat and Chiara Falls, were on sparkling form as the choir accompanied in a chorale-like way. Instrumental solos were performed by three U6 Music Scholars: Kate (cello), Emma (violin) and Eve (bassoon) – all three giving sensational performances and demonstrating extraordinary levels of musicianship.

It was wonderful to hear the Chamber Orchestra perform, too, with lots of new players in this post-lockdown era. Clearly, this orchestra has already found a collective voice, performing a piece by Lachner with great cohesion, attention to detail and power from all the instruments, yet allowing the sweetness of the lyrical moments to provide perfect moments of contrast.

The concert ended with the Chamber Orchestra accompanying the Senior Chamber Choir in a performance of Rutter’s ‘A Gaelic Blessing’. The lush string accompaniment, including harp (expertly played by Emma Paterson), perfectly matched the serenity of the choir; it is not surprising that the piece is an enduring popular choice at weddings, christenings and funerals – not only for the deeply comforting words but for the equally tranquil and sensitive setting of the music. A retiring collection raised £290.70 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

For the musicians, half term provides a welcome break from rehearsals before next term’s Michaelmas Concert, Informal Concerts and the Carol Service.

Grayson Jones