Year 7 Informal Concert

It’s always a pleasure to listen to the Year 7 boys perform in their Informal Concerts as they are such a musical year group. Last term, I had just returned from the USA and the various pieces of their last Informal Concert reminded me of different parts of America; this time, the concert had a more international feel.

We were taken first to Egypt by a trio of William, William and Tom. They had created an improvisation on the piano, drums and xylophone called ‘Desert Oasis’, and it was eerie and mystical as befits the temples, pyramids and inscrutable Sphinx of the Nile Valley. Eddie then flew us thousands of miles to China with his performance of ‘Si Je Ge’, which he reliably informed us meant ‘The Song of the Four Seasons’. I have to admit that only the raindrops of Spring sprung to my mind as he played, but the piece had an authentic oriental feel.

Then Jack played ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream. Although they are a British psychedelic rock band, I felt that it had an Australian quality in the brashness and energy, and so I was transported to Bondi Beach by Jack’s spirited drumming. We couldn’t have had more of a contrast when Charlie played ‘Fine Knacks for Ladies’ on his bassoon; it was as if we were hearing a hawking touting for business in Tudor Dublin, so we had been taken back in time as well as back over the equator into the Northern Hemisphere.

So when Taylor stood up to sing ‘Naïve’ by the Kooks, it was straight back to the 21st Century with a jump; Taylor did well to cope with the unusual rhythms and hard-to-fit lyrics. However, it was off to the other side of the Atlantic next, to a shady and seedy bar in Buenos Aires as Tom serenaded us on his trumpet with his moody rendition of ‘Swinging Janos’. There was nothing moody about Alex’s drum playing and we were North of the Border and deep on the Celtic Fringe with ‘John Barleycorn’ which was up next. My foot was tapping along as Alex played the drums with great gusto.

But, at last, it was back to the heart of the English countryside after all these international wanderings. Julian played ‘At the Fair’ on his viola, and it was so evocative that I wouldn’t have been surprised if Morris Dancers had appeared to perform alongside.

The next piece was a little schizophrenic on the international front; Louis played ‘The Anvil Chorus’ from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, so this was an Italian piece set in Egypt. I tried to imagine the Pyramids again, but so vigorous was Louis’ playing that Italy won out and I could see Louis busking with his trumpet in the streets of Naples, as tourists showered their loose change into his trumpet case.

Johnny then took us squarely back to the USA with his drum accompaniment of ‘Chain of Fools’, the Aretha Franklin hit. However his performance wasn’t square in the slightest, as it had a hippy quality… …I am a child of the 1960s, although I was a bit young to be at Woodstock in ‘69. Then it was a swift journey from up-state New York to the steamboats of the Mississippi with Freddie on his violin with ‘Showstopper’; Freddie’s jaunty performance was a delight.

However, the next step on our global journey was out-of-this-world! Jamie played ‘Study No 5’ on the timpani, and with just two notes at his disposal, he reminded me of the lunar landings, so in my imagination we were walking on the Moon. Mrs Westley mentioned that she thought that this was only the second occasion in her time at Elstree that there had been a timpani solo in a concert.

It was definitely back to Earth with Alex for the Finale; he played ‘The Parson’s Nose’, which is a tricky piece for the trombone and Alex coped with the glissandos very ably and the tone and tuning of his playing were both excellent.

Mr Inglis congratulated the boys on another excellent Year 7 Informal Concert. Mrs Westley had been inundated with requests to take part by the Year 7 musicians, and there were some stalwart performers missing this time for a variety of reasons at this busy stage of the term. The Year 7 boys are talented as well as enthusiastic. If these boys continue to progress so well, then it’ll be standing-room only when they perform as Year 8 boys.