Performing Arts Soirée

With the shutters closed and the lights dimmed on Friday evening, the Long Room seemed to return to its days as the salon of a country house, with music to match. However, there would be no drifting off to sleep, as the first piece (‘Buritos to Go’) was played with great vivacity by the Jazz Band. The ‘ad lib’ sections, in particular, got the feet tapping; firstly with Harry on the trumpet, and then with Peter on the saxophone.

Sam then explained the origin of the ‘Allegro’, attributed to Handel, which he went on to perform on his violin with a suitably Baroque liveliness. His second piece, ‘An Alpine Tune’ was more contemplative, and Sam used vibrato to powerful effect.

Then it was time for the first of the two Drama Scholarship candidates to take the floor. Oliver performed the scene from ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ in which Christopher Boone ‘investigates’ his home. This is a hard scene, as the central character’s autism is not officially confirmed in the book, and it is funny… …without being overtly funny, and Oliver had the audience listening to his every word as the tension rose towards the end of the piece.

The next part of the performing arts ‘sandwich’ was therefore musical, and Benedict returned to the Baroque era with a faultless performance of a Mozart piano sonata. The Long Room grand piano was put through its paces by Benedict as he played the runs and arpeggios with panache. As with Sam, we then had a complete change of mood from Benedict, with a piece by two Chinese composers called ‘Shui Cao Wu’ – the ‘Dance of the Watergrass’. It was a gentle piece full of interesting harmonies that wafted the audience into a relaxed state.

They were then woken up with a start. Tiger played ‘White Room’ by Cream, which was lively and took the more aged members of the audience back to the heydays of Eric Clapton in the late 1960s. It is great that the classics of the 1960s are still appealing to the aspiring drummers and rock stars of today. Not only does he play really well as a drummer, Tiger looks like a drummer, as his whole body moves to the beat.

Wilf then ratcheted up the tension one more jot with his performance of ‘There’s Always One’ by Jonathan Smith. He drew a picture with the words that he spoke that had the audience seeing the prank that the characters in the book were playing on their teacher – even the teachers in the room were rooting for the central characters to get away with their antics.

Having started off as the first soloist of the evening, Harry then cleared any remaining cobwebs away with his energetic playing on the trumpet. Firstly, he performed ‘Funketude’ by Rob Hudson, and followed that with the famous ‘Jigaudon’ by John McCabe. Elstree is so lucky to have such a fine tradition of trumpeters, and Harry has more than maintained the standards set by Elstree trumpeters who are now at their Public Schools. He plays with gusto, but also produces a fine tone, and the off-beat rhythm of ‘Jigaudon’ was beautifully captured, as well as the spirit and mood of ‘Funketude’.

The scholarship season is now upon us, and regardless of whether these boys win awards, the audience were the winners for the treat of listening to such polished performances last Friday in the Long Room. Well done to all the performers, and Good Luck when you take your scholarships.