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Tuesday, 14 April 2015
Three talented young musicians visited Bolton School to give the first in a series of Lunchtime Concerts which will be hosted by the School throughout the remainder of April and into May.
The concert took place in the Arts Centre main hall, which was packed for the occasion. Pupils from the Junior Girls’ School and both the Girls’ and Boys’ Division Senior Schools attended in large numbers, and there was also an impressive turnout from the musicians’ family and friends and the general public.
The first of the performers was Harry James Bowden, who is just eight years old. Despite his young age, he is already an accomplished pianist. From a very early age he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his musical family and learn an instrument. At the age of six, he started lessons with Miss Fiona Berry, who also gives individual music lessons at Bolton School. Since passing his Grade One exam with Distinction in December last year, he has progressed at a phenomenal pace, and more than earned his place alongside his fellow performers at the Lunchtime Concert.
Harry played three quite different pieces for the audience assembled in the Arts Centre. The first of these was a confident rendition of Beethoven’s Für Elise: an impressive opener to any repertoire, but particularly so for one so young. He followed this with Old Joe Clarke’s Boogie by Gerald Martin. This upbeat number offered a change of pace and showed his ability to play in different styles. Finally, he performed Sonata No.8, Op.13, ‘Pathétique’ – 2nd movement: Adagio Cantabile, another Beethoven piece. Despite the complexity of the music, Harry gave an accomplished performance and very much impressed the audience with his skills.
Next to take the stage was Alexandra Clarke, a thirteen-year-old flautist who is also a member of the National Children’s Orchestra. She started played the flute four years ago under the tuition of Miss Berry, and within a year had gained a place in the National Children’s Orchestra; she has since then performed at numerous prestigious venues, including the Royal Festival Hall in London and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. She recently won a place in the third round of the Rotary Young Musician Competition. She won this year’s Ramsbottom Music Festival, and will compete in the Regional Championship in September.
Alexandra opened her performance with Hypnosis by Ian Clarke, a piece which she obviously enjoyed as much as the audience. This was followed by Quantz’s Concerto in G Minor – 3rd movement: Vivace and Poulenc’s Sonata – 3rd movement: Presto Grazioso. The grand finale of Alexandra’s performance was Ian Clarke’s The Great Train Race: a piece written to showcase the range of sounds which a flue can produce, and designed in part to mimic the sounds of train. This involved a great deal of technical skill with the instrument, and included extended techniques such as multiphonics, singing and playing, and explosive harmonics. The piece made for a very impressive end to her section of the concert.
The third and final performer was Elliott Gaston-Ross, who was the 2014 winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Percussion Category Final and appeared in the televised grand final. He performed a percussion concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kirill Karabits at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. Elliott began playing the drum kit at the age of seven and took up percussion at nine. He has attended the Junior RNCM since 2010, where he receives tuition from Bolton School music teacher Mr Ian Forgrieve, and also takes piano lessons. In 2014 he received the Junior RNCM Director’s Prize. He was a member of the National Children’s Orchestra for four years and has played with the National Youth Orchestra for the past two years. In 2013, he was the youngest percussionist to gain a place on the London Symphony Orchestra Timpani and Percussion Academy. Recently he performed a marimba and clarinet duet for the Duchess of Cornwall in Clarence House, London.
Elliott began with a Snare Drum piece, Asventuras by Alexej Gerassimez, which requires the use of several different kinds of drumsticks and the performer’s hands to show off the many different colours and types of sound that the Snare Drum is capable of producing. Next Elliott played Land by Takatsugu Muramatsu and Ghanaia by Matthias Schmidt, two beautiful solo marimba compositions. This was followed by a marimba duet with Mr Forgrieve; they played the complex Bourée I, from English Suite No.2 by J.S. Bach. Finally, he closed the concert with an energetic rendition of Der Kleine Paganini by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic. This fast-paced and light-hearted piece made for a great end to the concert as a whole.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed listening to the three young musicians, and were very impressed with their skill and talent from start to finish. At the end of the concert, Boys’ Division Head of Music thanked Mr Forgrieve and Mr Stewart Death for accompanying Elliot and Alexandra where required, and invited the audience back once again for the remaining three Lunchtime Concerts in the series.
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