Good heavens above. What a stunning concert at St Mary’s – and how nice to see it so full – barely a seat to be had. Hundreds of happy Woodbridge friends and family were given an Advent treat to savour.
Seckford Sinfonia set the bar high from the start, with extraordinary poise for performers so relatively young and inexperienced. But they are of course the next generation and aspire to standards that were to unfold in front of them from then on. They are right to aspire, I should add, as their renderings of Susato, Ling and Williams were joyous and skilful.
The guitar ensemble, led by Mr Plackett and his excellent joke, were a delight. The soft sonority of classical guitar music is immensely beguiling, and our ensemble did Bach and Power proud with their beautiful mix of unison and harmony.
Jazz next, with a jaunty Let it Snow from the saxophone ensemble – we were properly in the mood now, one reinforced magnificently in the second half by the brass ensemble in their own jazz take on Go, tell it on the Mountain. Christmas is on the way and these two groups left us in no doubt! Sublime.
And sublime is the perfect word for the Chamber Orchestra’s astonishing English idyll. Elgar and Vaughan Williams – lyrical, magical, almost mystical in their embrace of our heritage. And the performances matched the music, with stunning precision in their floating melodies.
All change for the Concert Band – vitality, exuberance, panache and energy in wonderfully familiar Coates, and breathtakingly sophisticated Shostakovich. We all deserved our refreshments after that! Though not too many refreshments… the Swing Band swung us back into our seats with some blistering Bernstein before completing with Stolen Moments and Walk the dinosaur (Boom chakka…). Utterly brilliant with a series of solos earning well deserved applause. The Percussion ensemble kept us enthralled with a hypnotic take on Carl Orff; the Chamber Choir delighted with two gorgeous favourites – The long and winding road Flying us to the Moon and back… (do join us at one of our Carol Services to enjoy more of their repertoire, also being recorded next week!).
Cellisti calmed us all down again – beautiful, poised and poetic. And then the Symphony Orchestra to close with two fabulous overtures: Ruddigore and Nabucco. Great tunes, so Mr Milton assured us – and he was right. Magnificent, triumphant, Regal in their scope. What a finish. What a night!
Thanks so much to all of you who shared such an exceptional evening of music making; but most of all thank you to our young performers and to the host of music staff who have helped you achieve so wonderfully well.