Description of Tuesday 19th December 2017 Christmas Concert
BVGS Annual Christmas Concert – Tuesday 19th December 2017.
Anticipation of Inspiration and Excellence was in abundance as the car park rapidly filled well ahead of the expected 7 p.m. start of the Annual Christmas Concert at BVGS.
Having collected a copy of the programme, entry into Big School revealed a very different seating arrangement for both the audience and the student participants. Members of the orchestra took their places on the stage, where they were to remain throughout the whole concert and the choirs were arranged on stepped benches along the wall of the hall adjacent to the quad.
For me this was my first sight of the new Director of Music, Ashley Buxton who introduced himself before the orchestra struck up a rousing intro entitled Hark the Herald Fanfare. That got our attention before, in total contrast, the melodic soprano tone of Jeevan Braich, sited in one of the top corridor balconies, enthralled us with the first verse of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Sadly the spotlight failed to materialise and it took some seconds before we spotted Jeevan from the darkened room! The second verse was a communal effort including the audience – and very hearty it all sounded.
The whole orchestra then played Writings on the Wall from the James Bond movie Spectre followed by the Percussion Ensemble under the guidance and participation of Bethan Jones, played Christmas Wrapping and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
The Lower School Choir sang Man in the Mirror one of Michael Jackson’s songs and the Saxophone Ensemble played Makin’ Out. Ashley Buxton paid tribute to the leader of this group who had started her maternity leave recently and was therefore not present.
A duet of Skinny Love was sung by Rhianon Richards-Hargreaves and Viviennne Robert with own accompaniment on violin. I am unsure who was who although the combination of confident and less confident soloists was extremely effective.
The intermediate brass section augmented by Mr Taylor and Miss Swallow livened us all up again with a fabulous rendition of Little Drummer Boy. The group had only got together on the previous Thursday for the first time.
Angus Carter, trumpet “Superstar”, played The Green Hornet accompanied by the Advanced Brass Section. A prolonged ovation greeted Angus as he took a well deserve bow. The Advanced Brass accompanied by the Percussion Group had recently played at the Buzzard Valley Wine Centre when the booked act had failed to honour the gig in the bad weather. The students had jumped at the opportunity of their first “professional” assignment!
Freddie Coleman accompanied himself on the piano and sang That’s Christmas To Me.
The penultimate performance before the interval was the Year 7 Choir singing Jambo Bwana, a traditional Kenyan call followed by their version of Away In a Manger accompanied by the audience.
The orchestra rounded off the first half with a medley of Christmas tunes entitled Secret Agent Santa as they rose to the challenge of multi changes of pace and tempo.
The strict 15 minutes of interval was jeopardised somewhat by the crowd of attendees making their way to the canteen (or is it dining hall these days or even refectory?). By the time we were there after a quick gulp, it was time to return!
The Funky Bishops kicked off the second half after Brian Davies announced the raffle winners. I had somehow managed to miss the raffle ticket sales – not by design I might add! The only consolation was that one of our party, Mrs Julie Baker, won a four ball at Walmley almost exactly as I had done last year! Back to the Funky Bishops who always excel and appeal. They played You’ve got a Friend In Me with two drum solos. Plans are afoot for a CD to be recorded next year, together with a European Tour and they have been invited to attend the Music for Youth Festival next March.
The Flute ensemble played the Coventry Carol and Carol of Bells with the String Ensemble following with Drowsy Magic.
There was a brilliant display by the Year 7 Drum Corps with Deck the Halls using the backs of chairs as their drums! Sponsorship by a drum manufacturer required.
The Clarinet Ensemble represented by students from Year 7 to 12 played Yesterday that well loved Lennon and McCartney arrangement followed by Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. They have also been invited to the Music for Youth Festival.
Future Superstar Hitesh Jihall played Country Dance most provocatively.
School Captain Sophie Lloyd sang All I Want for Christmas in her penetrative alto voice.
Kieran Thiarya played Claire de Lune on the piano so beautifully and he doubles up as Leader of the Orchestra on his violin – what a talent.
The Senior Choir was somewhat depleted by illness but pleasantly sang White Winter Hymnal and One More Sleep.
Angus Carter conducted (his first time in public) the Wind Band in playing The Wild Westerns. One could almost imagine the Magnificent Seven approaching over Middle Field!
The full orchestra’s rousing rendition of Lord of the Dance was poignantly preceded by a recorder solo of the melody from the balcony. The spotlight highlighted the soloist this time!
The full cast of Students, Orchestra, Choirs and Soloists finalised the performances in their excellent performance of Polar Express – and then it was everyone’s turn for a holiday sing-along. Deck the Hall, Jingle Bells, O Christmas Tree and We Wish you a Merry Christmas stretched our vocal ranges to capacity. A fitting seasonal end to a wonderful concert.
Dominic Robson paid tribute to the students and to Mr Buxton in his first term at BVGS for all their hard work in putting on the concert.
Mr Buxton paid his tribute to all the 14 peripatetic teachers that make his life manageable as a “one man band”, to his wife and to Jack O’Hara for his unfailing help in the evening’s preparation.
Last but not least thanks were given to Luke and Jay the techies who looked after the sound and lighting.
Whilst I understand the desire to locate ALL the participants in the hall to enjoy other students performances as opposed to just current and next performers, as a member of the audience, I found it difficult to see who was performing what and where! Perhaps I will bring a periscope next time!