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REVIEW: Celebration Gala Concert at Warwick Hall

Conductor David Curtis, baritone Roderick Williams and Nick Abell of sponsors Wright Hassall.
Conductor David Curtis, baritone Roderick Williams and Nick Abell of sponsors Wright Hassall.

Lise Evans reviews the inaugural concert held at the new venue on 1st October

Warwick Hall resounded with musical brilliance on Saturday evening, when an inaugural Gala Concert featuring pupils of King’s High School and Warwick School performing alongside the professional musicians of Orchestra of the Swan.

The newly-built hall is one of the finest performance venues in the region and, as well as benefitting pupils across the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, will be an asset to the whole community.

The evening saw an inspired repertoire that was complemented by a stunning array of performances by pupils and professionals alike. It centred on Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS), the Stratford-based chamber orchestra which commenced its 21 anniversary season this month.

Under the auspices of artistic director and conductor David Curtis, OOTS provided a splendid musical backdrop from which the talented pupils of the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation shone brightly forth.

The first half of the programme had a very English theme that opened with a rousing rendition of Britten’s version of the National Anthem conducted by Liz Green, Director of Music (Academic and Choral), Warwick School. OOTS followed on with Vaughan Williams’ Overture The Wasps, invoking a delightful picture of the English countryside at its most glorious. Next was Elgar’s Cello Concerto – Movements 1 & 2 featuring the virtuoso talent of Warwick pupil Archie Whitby as guest soloist on cello.

To finish off the first half, Sam Young’s exquisite Lux Noxque - a composition written for soprano saxophone, two celli and choir - was performed with astonishing brilliance by Warwick School Choir, conducted by Liz Green. This world premiere was an extraordinarily moving musical representation of texture, using the theme of dark and light, expressed both aurally and visually. This hugely talented Warwick Sixth Form composer is one to watch for the future!

Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, most ably performed by the brass section of the Foundation Orchestra, was conducted by Simon Hogg, Director of Music (Performance), Warwick School. This was followed by the rich noble tones of special guest, the internationally-acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams. Mr Williams, accompanied by OOTS, treated the audience to a delicious song cycle of five songs from Shakespeare’s plays by Gerald Finzi – Let Us Garlands Bring op.18 to great applause.

The evening ended with a spirited rendition of 1919 version Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite by the combined musical forces of OOTS and Foundation Orchestras, conducted by David Curtis. It’s fair to say that there wasn’t one single member of the audience who didn’t come away from that evening absolutely wowed!

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