Port Sunlight Gala Concert
Sunday, 13 March 2016
The annual joint Gala Concert was this year held in the marvellous setting of Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight. This wonderful afternoon of music was arranged as part of the celebrations commemorating 500 years of education at Bolton School.
The sun shone for the occasion as Bolton School staff, pupils and their families arrived in Port Sunlight. William Lever re-endowed the Bolton School Foundation as a model of aspirational education; he also built Port Sunlight as a ‘model village’ for the workers at his Sunlight Soap factory in the same spirit. Hosting the concert in this venue therefore brought together the shared heritage of the School and the village, linked by the 1st Viscount Leverhulme and honouring his legacy to education.
Philip Britton, Headmaster of the Boys’ Division, welcomed members of the School community and residents and friends of Port Sunlight to Hulme Hall for the concert, before handing over to the musicians.
The Brass Fanfare opened proceedings with ‘Fanfare for Port Sunlight’, a piece written for the occasion by Girls’ Division Director of Music Mrs Andrea Price.
They were followed by the Intermediate Concert Band, playing a pair of contrasting pieces: the traditional ‘An Irish Party in Third Class’ and ‘I Gotta Feeling’, made famous by The Black Eyed Peas. Harp soloist Alexandra Hopkinson offered up a different style again with her graceful performance of ‘Nataliana’.
The Middle School Choir then took centre stage to sing ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical Rent, with two pupils giving strong solos during this piece. The girls also sang ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. This was followed by the Tuned Percussion Ensemble playing ‘A La Samba’: this cheerful and fast-paced piece showcased the pupils’ skill and rhythm.
Next up were the Parallel Oreos: Year 11 pupils George Morgan on guitar and lead vocals, Hassaan Hussain on guitar, Jay Harland on Bass Guitar and Adam Critchlow on drums. They opened their set with one of their own songs, ‘Smile’, which went down well with the audience. As Hulme Hall was the venue for Ringo Starr’s official debut as a member of The Beatles in 1962, it was only fitting for the band to perform a tribute to the famous group: they did an energetic cover of ‘Twist and Shout’.
Finally, the Senior Concert Band ended the first half of the concert with ‘Highlights from Riverdance’. Girls’ Division a capella group The Accidentals performed the graceful vocal sections of this medley beautifully, and a number of soloists from various sections of the band also had their moments in the spotlight.
Following the interval, the Drum Corps played ‘Let It Go’, composed by Mr Forgrieve. The impressive display of drumstick flips along with the music made for an excellent opening for the second half of the concert. The Saxophone Choir continued the up-beat pace with ‘Jinga’, which included solos from four talented pupils. The Senior Guitar Group then played ‘Esquizofrenico’, the music building up throughout this dramatic piece. They concluded their set with a guitar rendition of the well-known Dean Martin song ‘Volare’.
The penultimate performances from the Jazz Band involved guitar, saxophone, trumpet and tenor saxophone solos. In both ‘Easy Street’ and ‘Squib Cakes’, the soloists and ensemble musicians alike gave high-quality performances throughout.
The Senior Orchestra provided the finale to the Port Sunlight Gala Concert with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The pupils’ technical skill and ability in performing this complex piece of music to such an admirable standard really impressed the audience, who were also surprised and delighted to discover that the Music Departments had even arranged ‘cannon fire’ at all the appropriate moments!
Mr Jeremy Bleasdale, the Boys’ Division Director of Music, then invited the audience to join with The Accidentals in singing ‘Jerusalem’, accompanied by the Senior Orchestra. This was yet again an accomplished performance from the pupils, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed filling Hulme Hall with song to bring the event to a close.
Sue Hincks, Headmistress of the Girls’ Division, ended the afternoon by thanking the young musicians who performed. She also offered her thanks to the Directors of Music in both Divisions, Mr Bleasdale and Mrs Price, as well as the Music Department staff for putting together such a spectacular show, and the logistics and backstage teams for their assistance. She also thanked Port Sunlight for welcoming the School to the village.
The Gala Concert in Hulme Hall was a wonderful afternoon of music-making and a fitting continuation of the School’s 500th anniversary celebrations.
Click here to view a gallery of pictures from the Port Sunlight Gala Concert.
Some videos from the concert are now available to watch on Bolton School TV. Click the title of the piece to view the video: ‘Fanfare for Port Sunlight’ (Brass Fanfare), ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ (Middle School Choir), ‘Let It Go’ (Drum Corps), ‘Highlights from Riverdance’ (Senior Concert Band and The Accidentals). Alternatively, press the play button below to watch them all:
Click here to listen to the concert again on the School’s Soundcloud, or press the play button on the Soundcloud player below: