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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
The Bolton School and Friends Gala Concert 2014 was a truly spectacular occasion. With three local primary schools joining some of the Bolton School’s bands, orchestras, choirs, and all of the Year 7 boys, the event certainly could not have had a better setting. The Victoria Hall was packed to the rafters with parents, teachers and friends, and the children’s music filled the space throughout the evening.
The programme began with the pomp of ‘Let it Go!’ performed by the Drum Corps Fanfare, which was a grand opening for the concert. The Joint Concert Band then took over to perform two upbeat, jazzy numbers including ‘Mancini!’, a medley of Henry Mancini’s music, including the famous Pink Panther theme! The Tuned Percussion Ensemble, playing glockenspiels and xylophones, impressed the audience with ‘Four Scottish Dances’ – a traditional tune, which they played perfectly despite the quick tempo.
Next Egerton CP School took to the stage to sing ‘Raise my Voice’. The performance was a real crowd-pleaser, with the class performing a complex series of actions through the chorus in perfect time with one another.
They were followed by Walmsley CE School, who performed two uplifting songs: ‘Wake me up!’ by Avicii and Westlife’s ‘You Raise Me Up’. The children’s renditions of these songs were really moving, and with only a guitar or piano as their accompaniment, their voices really stood out.
The primary schools were followed by Bolton School’s Senior Guitar Group. Mr Jeremy Bleasdale, who leads the group, arranged two songs for the evening. It was clear that the guitarists enjoyed playing ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and ‘Volare’ as much as the audience enjoyed the performance.
The next item on the programme was the massed voices of Year 7 and Guests. This medley of songs was performed by all four visiting primary schools, the Boys’ Division Year 7s, and seven boys from Years 11 to 13 performed vocal and guitar solos!
The medley opened with Robbie Williams’s ‘Let Me Entertain You’, and Sam Critchlow singing a charismatic solo. Liam Jenkins’s voice was perfect for Greenday’s punk-rock ‘Holiday’; he was followed by Jackson Shaw who sang the complex vocals to ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay. Next there was a change of pace with an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ by Alex Greenhalgh as the lights went down and the children slowly swayed with multi-coloured glow-sticks in the darkness. Soham Coomer’s performance of Take That’s ‘Rule the World’ lifted the performance to a dramatic level. The next song brought back a quicker tempo with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd –and the children ‘trudging’ on the spot with their heads down before shouting “Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!” with real feeling had the audience in stitches! Jamie Kinsley’s guitar solo during this piece was spectacular and earned him a huge round of applause. The medley ended with Felix Roe singing Bon Jovi’s ever-popular ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ and a final reprise of ‘Let Me Entertain You’ before the Victoria Hall erupted into well-deserved applause.
Despite the boys’ nerves, the soloists’ performances were very strong and after the performance they were giving one another high-fives and well-deserved congratulations backstage!
The medley was a tough act to follow, but Bolton School’s Symphonic Brass band took it in their stride and kept the audience absorbed in the music. The Joint Chamber choir next performed two very different pieces: the emotional ‘MLK (Martin Luther King)’ with a solo from Molly McLaughlin and a more upbeat ’Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.
St George’s CE Primary School were the next group to sing, giving the audience a really entertaining version of ‘Candy Man’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – complete with giant lollipops and dancing at the chorus.
The final guest school to perform was Belmont Primary School. They gave the audience two pieces from The Butter Box: ‘The Crow’s Button Song’ which involved all the boys stepping out from the group to play the part of the crow in turn, and ‘Leprechaun Dance’ which involved the children dancing in the style of an Irish jig!
Bolton School’s Jazz Band polished off the evening with a couple of brilliant performances, during which each member of the band got to play a complicated solo. These fast-paced jazz numbers got the audience tapping their feet and dancing in their seats – ready for the grand finale.
The audience was asked to stand and join in for a rousing rendition of ‘Jerusalem’. Daniel Sharif handled the solo verses of ‘Rule Britannia’ admirably, with the audience lending their voices for the chorus and the primary school children and Year 7s waving Union Flags in time with the music. The band flowed seamlessly from this to ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, during which Billy Morrison performed a solo.
Finally, as the audience crossed their arms and joined their hands and the combined voices all but raised the roof, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and a reprise of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ made for a truly outstanding end to a wonderful evening.
Click here to watch a video of the massed voices medley.
Click here to watch a video of the big finale.
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