Such range; such scope; such skills on show. The concert began with a richly deserved encore of Holst’s St Paul’s Suite by the Chamber Orchestra, played recently and so beautifully at the Library Chamber Soirée. A joyful dance of a piece with Asian cadences to supplement the English folk. Glorious – and a great hint at what lies ahead for the Abbey’s musicians… many of them next to perform under the guise of the Abbey Chamber Choir. They did themselves proud, measuring up excellently to the exalted company they followed. Two pieces sung with a wonderful clarity of line. The Saxophone Ensemble brought more seasonal cheer and foot-tapping familiarity in their terrific two-hander; and Mr Turner’s first performance leading the Concert Band brought the first half to a close with joyful and expert renderings of three staples of the repertoire – the Sleigh Ride benefiting greatly from the delightful and hectic percussion part.
After the interval what better than the Swing Band to get things moving again – and playing without Mr Shepherd to boot. A self-guided triumph; and plenty more seasonality for the audience to enjoy as well! Mrs Seed’s Percussion Ensemble built on a fine tradition forged over the years with Mi Milagro, the marimba and drums enhanced by rhythmic clapping – a first by my recollection. Great fun. As was the Brass Ensemble in its trio of Christmas specials: they even wished us a Merry Christmas, and all that jazz.
And then something perhaps even more impressive than all that had gone before: the first movement of Beethoven’s First Symphony with the Symphony Orchestra. Good heavens. A big piece; and a big performance which grew in stature and confidence and ended with fittingly long and loud applause.
A marvellous evening to celebrate a term of fine music-making by our very talented pupils.