Year 8 Informal Concert

Friday lunch is one of my favourite times at Elstree: the weekend is about to begin, it’s fish-and-chips for lunch, and Mrs Westley arranges Informal Concerts in which to relax during Rest. And this Informal Concert was a particular treat, as this week it was the turn of the Year 8 boys to entertain us. Not to add any pressure on the boys, many of whom were quite tired after the all-day Choir Trip to sing Evensong at Bath Abbey on Thursday, but the audience was swelled by the presence of many of the Governors of Elstree who had held one of their regular meetings in the Library during the morning.
They were in for a treat. The school’s latest addition to the Scholarship Board Joe (Abingdon Academic Scholarship) showed that he is also a talented piano player, performing ‘Attitude’ with… …attitude. It was jazzy piece with syncopated rhythms and unusual and quirky sections; Joe played with aplomb, contrasting volume and tone.
Joe was followed by Jago on the drum-kit, who played ‘Time is Running Out’ expertly. It would be sensible to mention the other two drummers at this stage, Ryne (who played ‘Minority’) and Tiger (who played ‘Would?’), as it would be unfair to pick one out of the three ahead of the other two. All three boys played with that calm expression so typical of great drummers, and all three boys seemed to move like well-oiled machines, with their whole bodies being part of the music from feet to hands, to the expression of calm concentration on their faces. The drummers of Elstree are an expert lot, and we have much to thank their parents for, as they have endured all the practice that has resulted in such great performances. And their neighbours…
Benedict then played ‘Rustic Dance’ on the ‘cello, and we were transported away from the stage of heavy rock to a pastoral scene somewhere deep in the English countryside. It was definitely England, as there were traces of Percy Grainger in the melody, and I started to imagine Morris Dancers as Benedict played sensitively yet also with a bounciness that such a piece requires, and which comes over so well on the ‘cello.
From the English countryside, the next piece took us to the aristocratic courts of Middle Europe as Yuanlong played a Minuet by Telemann. Yuanlong kept the tempo up to speed throughout, yet included passages of contrasting mood to ensure that this baroque piece was not too formal.
By now I realised that we were on a journey with this Informal Concert, and Max took us to Paris, as he sang ‘I Love Paris’. He has such a clear voice with a great tone and he contrasted the minor sections with the major ones to great effect. Mrs Westley had chosen a picture of the Eiffel Tower bathed in cherry blossom for the programme, and with Max’s singing, it was tempting to drift away with thoughts of how a weekend in Paris might be just the thing required after winter in Berkshire.
Jenson played ‘Lovet Faller’ on the piano, which was not a piece that I had heard before, but it again had a hint of the Baroque reminding me of the mood engendered by Yuanlong a few items earlier.
Then it was off to the USA. River played ‘Wild West’ on his ‘cello and my foot was tapping, ready for a hoedown or a barn dance. This was a pacy piece played with panache and River’s confident performance had both rhythm and sensitivity.
Tiger finished the concert with his performance on the drums, mentioned earlier, and Mr Inglis congratulated the boys and Mrs Westley on another great Informal Concert from this talented bunch of boys, many of whom will be performing in the Spring Concert next Tuesday, 21st March.