Autumn Concert is UCS musicians' perfect platform

The Autumn Concert is always a notable highlight in the Senior School calendar and the 2022 edition lived up to its top billing as UCS musicians aged 11–18 captivated a packed Great Hall audience of parents, staff and fellow pupils.

The UCS Music Department had curated a beautiful programme, and duly wheeled out its four ‘big guns’ of Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, Senior Jazz and Symphony Orchestra to deliver it in enthralling style on Thursday evening, 8th December.

It may have been freezing outside but the jaunty opening piece by Concert Band, Holst’s A Moorside Suite, warmed up the audience immediately. Under the baton of Mr Walton, Concert Band also performed the eponymous theme of the film Catch Me If You Can, revealing a full repertoire of instruments (extended percussion included!).

Next to take the stage of the atmospheric Great Hall were the numerically smaller but equally talented Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mr Gibson. They performed a Vivaldi concerto – one of 12 published under the title ‘L’Estro armonico’ – and were able to stylishly showcase three outstanding soloists in Finn Kjaergaard and Oliver Schultz (both violin) and Ananya Radhakrishnan (cello). Bravo!

Supplementing all of this virtuosity, musicianship and maturity of performance was an infusion of fun from Senior Jazz under the direction of Mr Da Silva. Their two numbers – the fabulous Shining Star by Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey (arranged by Mark Taylor) and Mario Kart 8 Theme by Atsuko Asahi – were adorned by Daisy Ellis-Thomson’s and Sophie Andreae’s vocals, solos from Oliver Schultz and Charlie Cash, and a rhythm section featuring Aidan Pick, Edward Choi and Joseph Kouyoumjian.

Another thoroughbred from the UCS Music stable rounded off the evening’s music-making: the bold, sensitive and talented Symphony Orchestra, comprising pupils from Years 7–13. First they evoked the spirit of Scotland with a rendition of Hamish MacCunn’s The Land of The Mountain and The Flood; a peak performance that segued into Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 26 and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, Op. 27, as Mr Dawe took over the baton from Mr Gibson.

This wonderfully rendered programme belied weeks of practice and rehearsals that allied effort and excellence in preparing such a memorable concert. It marked the second instalment of a three-part concert series also including the Ensembles Concert and the Carol Concert, on 30th November and 12th December respectively.

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