Year 7 Informal Concert

Normally I’m very grumpy when boys tell me that they are going to miss a Greek lesson during Rest on a Friday but not today as they were missing it in order to perform in the Year 7 Informal Concert in the Long Room. I have listened to this year group perform in Informal Concerts in Year 5 and Year 6 and they are a talented bunch… …it’s worth sacrificing a Greek lesson to be there.

And they didn’t disappoint today.

Charlie kicked off by playing ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in a duet with Mr Green – who played the John Lennon role to Charlie’s Paul McCartney on Bass. This performance had beat and verve set us up for another 60s tune of the ‘James Bond Theme’ played with gusto by Zander on the trumpet, while Mrs Westley accompanied him on the piano with quite a menacing set of chords.

Then we were flying as Eddie sang ‘The Birds Lament’, wonderfully in tune and mastering the tricky swoops in the melody. Eddie sang with great expression, and this was replicated by Julian on his violin. So often boys equate quantity of volume with quality of music, but Julian played his ‘Serenade’ as if he really was serenading us: quietly and with great expression. This may not be wise with this member of staff straight after an Elstree Fish-n’Chip lunch in a warm room, but the serenade was quite short, and I was still awake at the end.

Next was Tom who played a duet of ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ with Miss Collins on the piano. This is one of my favourite tunes from ‘The Lion King’ – a film I have sat through with children countless times – and I could have sung along. I could have also sung along to Miles’s version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and this set me on an American theme. My wife and I have just flown back from Los Angeles and we had a remarkable flight in gin-clear conditions until the sun set as we crossed the Mississippi at St Louis, so I saw the whole of Kansas (home to Dorothy who sings the song in ‘The Wizard of Oz’) and Miles’ rendition sent me back to the skies above that large and very flat state.

Then it was off to the Appalachians with Freddie playing ‘Viola Time’ on his… viola, unsurprisingly. Freddie’s performance had all the energy of a hoedown and I particularly liked the pizzicato ending. Tom’s fanfare-like playing of ‘Variations’ reminded me of New York with its swagger and style, and then it was back to Europe with a bang as Taylor sang ‘Budapest’ by George Ezra. I always think of trains because of the ‘whistling’ notes in that song, so as Taylor sang, I was back on a train in California which we rode in a railway museum in Sacremento. I thought I would struggle to stay back in the USA when Angus  stood up to play ‘Corriecholille’ on the chanter, but the tune has a hill-billy quality and I was back in Tennessee – it’s well-known among some staff that I have a bit of hill-billy in me and adore Country & Western music. I often arrive at Elstree listening to Dolly or Kenny in the car. Angus’ rendition had my foot a-tapping.

From Tennessee, we drifted south into cotton-country with Eddie performing ‘Heat-Haze’ on the violin. He also knows how to play quietly and with feeling and this was another piece of music with a lullaby quality; I imagined myself in Alabama on a hot summer afternoon. The next piece moved me along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans as William played ‘Bow-Chick-A-Wow’ on the piano. He caught the mood of Rhythm-&-Blues and my foot was tapping again… …more of that hill-billy in my genes, perhaps.

I have written about Mack’s performances before, and he was up next… …and he didn’t disappoint. He can sing well. He can play the guitar well. But what is really hard is singing and playing the guitar at the same time, and doing it well… …but Mack can and he did so with his rendition of ‘I Won’t Give Up’ by Jason Mraz (I think… …he’s not a Country&Western star). I spent part of Half Term in San Francisco, and Mack’s performance could have been that of a busker on the streets of that amazing city.

Tom performance of ‘Coranto’ on the trumpet, with its renaissance feel of a stately gavotte could have brought me back to Europe. However, I was so stuck on the other side of the Atlantic that I imagined him playing to us in an Ivy League university in New England – Yale rather than Harvard, I think, as Yale is the upmarket Oxford to Harvard’s rather dowdy Cambridge.

After a lot of technical preparation, this Informal Concert was drawn to a conclusion by Carlo playing ‘Paranoid’ on the drums. The electronics made him have to restart twice, but it was third time lucky as he thundered through the rhythms and I was in Philadelphia with its vibrant music scene… …and the name ‘Philadelphia’ (?????? – friendly, and ??????? – brother) brought me back to the Greek lesson which we had missed, but at least the boys that read this can learn a bit more Greek.

This is a year group who is developing into a talented bunch of musicians, and it’s clear that the promise which they showed in the junior part of the school is coming to fruition. I thoroughly enjoyed this concert, even though it over-ran into games, and ACTI made the adults clear up the chairs as the boys had to rush off to get changed.