An undoubted highlight of the Loreto year is the Easter Concert, an annual celebration of the musical talents of our students. This spectacular event has now found a permanent, and natural, home at the Royal Northern College of Music, and it was with a great sense of excitement and anticipation that over two hundred performers, supported by family members, friends and Loreto staff, made their way to the famous venue on Oxford Road.
Head of Music, David Lloyd-Mostyn, had selected a diverse range of musical items, with particular emphasis on the work of women composers. It was entirely in keeping with this theme that the opening piece, the familiar Prince of Denmark’s March, whilst written by a man, Jeremiah Clarke, was performed by a brass ensemble directed by student Hannah Beech, the players perched high above the auditorium and filling the space with rich brass sounds. This superb opening was followed by another student led item, Faith Mbachu’s gospel choir, One House, One Sound, who gave the audience passion, spirituality (and choreography) in their delivery of Sweet Jesus and Freedom. The explosive rhythms of Ian Jones’ Percussion Ensemble next filled the arena, before the Big Band took the spotlight, delighting the audience as they more than did justice to the illustrious names on their programme of items, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker and Louis Prima amongst them. Highlights included Georgia Goldsbrough’s bluesy vocals on Angel Eyes, and a driving rhythm section, particularly in evidence in Sing Sing Sing.
Dewi Tudor-Jones’ String Ensemble entertained the audience with two contrasting items, a tango inspired La Cumparista and an ingenious but highly effective version of the Theme from Doctor Who, composed by Delia Derbyshire. A choral spectacular brought the first half of the concert to a close, as the Pop Choir, joined by the choirs of Loreto High School, St Mary’s C of E Primary, Rolls Crescent Primary and Our Lady’s RC Primary, delivered their take on the Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby, What About Us by Pink and two numbers from the ground breaking hit musical Hamilton.
The second half opened with the strange sight of two dove-tailed grand pianos centre stage, all being revealed when the eight pianists comprising Silvia Lucas’ Piano Circus, took up their positions, their programme featuring a conventional piece by Haydn and a very unconventional Poker Face, written by Stefani Gemanotta (or Lady Ga Ga as she is better known) It would be safe to say that this particular number has probably never been delivered in such a manner before. Following on from last year’s well received barber shop item, the audience was delighted to see another student led ensemble continuing the a cappella tradition. MT presented an emotional Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and, by contrast, a slickly choreographed version of Cyndi Lauper’s Land of Lola, from the musical Kinky Boots. Jennifer Dyson’s Wind Ensemble highlighted another female composer, as they performed Sally Beamish’s Boardwalk, with an arrangement by student Caitlin Schaffer, before bringing the tango back to the evening with Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. The performances of the Chamber Choir are always eagerly awaited and once again they showed their flair and musicality as they delivered Bruckner’s Locus Iste, My Guardian Angel, by Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, and a quirky In a Sentimental Mood, a Duke Ellington favourite.
The penultimate performance of the evening saw flautist Milana Bout, accompanied by Silvia Lucas on piano, take to the stage and deliver Concertino pour Flute by Cecile Chaminade. Perhaps inspired by the splendid acoustics and the prestigious venue, Milana’s playing was magical and truly memorable, and she well deserved the ovation she received. Finally, the College Orchestra, directed by David Lloyd Mostyn, performed Anne Dudley’s Poldark suite, its sweeping melodies summoning images of craggy cliffs and crashing seas. This highly effective piece was followed by St Cecilia Concerto prize winner Lilah Bell playing the first movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G, which she accomplished with considerable aplomb and great technical virtuosity. A magnificent end to a magnificent evening!