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Bolton School In Bridgewater Hall Sellout

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

"Bolton School is about so much more than just an education and a fantastic performance like tonight's brings home what an amazing place this is! Bolton School is a community and events like this, involving so many people, show us at our very best. I really don't know how the pupils and staff have managed to put on such a wonderful performance, given that it is exam time as well. Congratulations to everyone involved! These were the words of Mrs Gill Richards, Headmistress of Bolton School Girls' Division, at the culmination of a wonderful evening of music-making.

The Bolton School "family" had come together for a musical extravaganza at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Over 650 pupils from Year 4 through to the Sixth Form from both the Girls' and Boys' Divisions, members and former members of the teaching staff, current and ex-governors joined with parents and friends of the School, who, as a participative audience, played an integral role in the festival atmosphere of this mid-summer gala event.

Opening the evening, Mr Stephen Martin, Head of Music in the Boys' Division, congratulated the pupils and staff on working so hard in their preparation and rehearsals and commended them on having earned the right to play in such a world-class venue. Mr Alistair MacKenzie, Head of Music in the Girls' Division, gave particular praise to Mr Richard Eastham and Mrs Vivienne Carter for their tireless endeavours in the administration of the concert, without whose supreme efforts this event could not have taken place.

In a percussion piece composed especially for the evening by Mr Ian Forgrieve, percussion teacher, the School's Drum Corps opened the concert with the rousing Bridgewater Salute! The Joint Concert Band, which was formed in 2002 and is soon to embark on a tour of Germany, then took centre stage and inspired everyone with Highlights from Pirates of the Caribbean (At the World's End) and Gonna Fly Now (theme from "Rocky").

Mr Jeremy Bleasdale's Massed Guitar Groups (a staggering 65 guitarists playing together) offered lively and, as ever, flawless, foot-tapping renditions of Livin' la Vida Loca and La Isla Bonita. Offering a "true picture" of the Bolton School family, the Massed Choirs - a combination of the Senior and Chamber Choirs of both divisions, the Girls' Division Middle School Choir, Boys' Division Year 7 and Year 8 Choirs, staff, governors and parents - produced a breath-taking sound, conducted by Mrs Vivienne Carter, they performed Parry's coronation anthem I Was Glad and Cy Coleman's timeless The Rhythm of Life; over 350 voices rang out across the magnificent concert hall. Then it was time for more percussion, with the Joint Percussion Ensemble offering another piece written especially for the event, Bridgewater Bash.

The end of the first half was upon the audience already and the Massed Voices of Year 7, directed by Mr Stephen Martin, offered a rousing medley of songs from the popular musical Grease. Sunglasses were donned and the audience were soon inextricably involved in singing and performing the actions including a hilarious handjive!

After the interval, Mr Alistair MacKenzie, conducted the Joint Orchestra in atmospheric performances of Tchaikovsky's moving Scene from Swan Lake and Verdi's iconic Grand March from his opera Aida. He then conducted the Chamber Choir, which in recent years has toured Vienna, Paris and Prague, as they performed a diverse programme of Cantate Domino by the early Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi and Guy Turner's exquisite arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The Jazz Band, comprising girls and boys, has performed at many events, including boat launches and fashion shows! Wherever they appear, they invariably excite and entrance audiences and tonight there were no exceptions with dynamic performances of Session Samba and Minnie the Moocher, arranged by Ben Smith of Year 12 with an inspired vocal performance from Alex Fletcher, also from Year 12.

The dramatic finale involved everyone, including the audience. In a scene reminiscent of The Last Night of the Proms, Union Jack flag waving pupils kept time to some roof-raising patriotic sing-alongs, including Jerusalem, Amazing Grace, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Auld Lang Syne. The Shree Shwaminarayan Gadi Pipe Band joined forces with an enormous 130 piece orchestra made up of boys and girls from both divisions to accompany the sell out audience, 260 year 7 pupils and the 300 strong choir - a finale of gargantuan proportions.

The Bridgewater Hall had never seen anything quite like this!

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The Bridgewater Hall Gala Concert brought the whole Bolton School family together

The Bridgewater Hall Gala Concert brought the whole Bolton School family together

Bridgewater Hall

Over 650 girls and boys took part in the musical extravaganza at the Bridgewater Hall

Bridgewater Hall