After several highly successful years making use of the Halle St Peter’s rehearsal space for our Easter Concert, the Music Department felt the need for a larger venue to accommodate the numbers of family members and friends of the college who wanted to attend. Where better than the Royal Northern College of Music? So it was with a great sense of anticipation and excitement that over a hundred musicians and singers made their way to the renowned Royal College on a chilly April evening just before Easter.
There, in the magnificent concert hall, a sell-out audience waited eagerly. Cobwebs were blown away by the opening item, Ian Jones’ Percussion Ensemble playing Recognition, by Axtell, before the familiar strains of the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata no.8 in C minor, delivered with lyricism and sensitivity by pianist Alex Jang, filled the auditorium. Graham South’s Jazz Band next took centre stage, filling the space with their mightily impressive big sound, playing Groovin’ Hard, Days of Wine and Roses, Hayburner, and a very unusual interpretation of the Beatles’ Help, featuring the talented Jen Rice on vocals.
The String Orchestra, under the direction of Dewi Tudor Jones, shone in their rendition of Suite from Abdelazer by Purcell, and Romanza from The Gadfly by Shostakovich, before flautist Eloise Hatton, accompanied superbly on piano by Silvia Lucas, reminded the audience of her beautiful playing in the St Cecilia competition in November, as she delivered Samuel Barber’s Canzone: she seemed a natural in the concert hall environment. The first half was brought to a lively close by the Pop Choir, augmented by the choir from Rolls Crescent Primary School and assorted musicians and ensembles, performing All Star, Journey to the Past, from the musical film Anastasia, and Johnny B Goode, in homage to the late Chuck Berry, featuring Alex Linward on guitar.
The second half started in splendid fashion with the unusual sight of three pianists, Eleanor Cummings, George Crawford and Jerry Yau, sitting at the same piano and displaying excellent timing as they played Valse from 2 Pieces for 6 Hands by Rachmaninoff, and Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance. Another finalist from the St Cecilia competition, Tia Chapman, showed great poise and focus in her playing of Sonata in E minor, Op. 38 no. 1 by Bernard Robert, negotiating the intricacies of the piece with aplomb. The Wind Ensemble, directed by Jennifer Dyson, ‘swung’ with gusto in their account of music from The Incredibles and a crowd-pleasing selection from The Lion King.
Head of Music David Lloyd-Mostyn directed the Chamber Choir in a beautiful rendition of John Stainer’s magical God So Loved the World, before changing the mood completely with a witty, humorous version of Beyoncé Knowles’ Single Ladies, an item much enjoyed by audience and choristers alike. The mellifluous tones of the euphonium then filled the hall as Ben Corbridge dazzled in his delivery of Fantasia Brilliante on Rule Britannia by John Hartmann, featuring some very nimble valve work, and the piano accompaniment of stalwart Silvia Lucas. The final item of a magnificent evening saw David Lloyd-Mostyn conducting the Loreto Orchestra as they coped splendidly with part of Stravinsky’s revolutionary Rite of Spring. It remained only for pianist Alice Mummery to bring a marvellous evening to a close as, accompanied by the full orchestra, she played Piano Concerto No.3, 1st movement by Kabalevsky, displaying all the touch and assurance she showed when winning the St Cecilia Competition earlier in the year.
All the musicians and singers enjoyed the superb facilities of the Northern College and relished performing in the magnificent concert hall. Principal Ann Clynch was delighted to see so many students and staff taking part, and a very appreciative full-house audience of families and friends.
The next musical event on the agenda will take place at the Band on the Wall, in Swan Street, Manchester, on 25th June, when the Leavers Jazz Collective, LS Funk Combo and Loreto College Big Band will be performing.