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Thursday, 30 April 2015
This year’s May Serenade was the first organised by the Girls’ Division’s new Director of Music, Mrs Andrea Price, who made sure that this special evening was as spectacular as ever. The girls’ musical talents were showcased through both ensemble and solo performances, which provided great variety to the programme.
Before the concert began, guests were invited to view an exhibition of girls’ GCSE artwork, as well as final pieces created for design and technology, textiles, and food technology GCSE. The work was made to a very high standard across all of the subjects, and received a great deal of well-deserved attention and praise.
The May Serenade was opened by the Joint Senior Orchestra, conducted by Miss Deady; they gave a stunning rendition of the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. After this rousing introduction, which was a great opportunity for the cellists to shine, the Middle School Choir took to the stage with Mrs Price conducting. The girls’ opening of Panis Angelicus was a great contrast to the previous piece. They then performed Skyfall and Counting Stars, both of which gave a number of girls solo sections during the verses. The girls did a spectacular job with both of these songs, and performed with a great deal of confidence.
Year 13 pupil Polly Adams was the first of the soloists to take centre stage in this year’s May Serenade. She played Élégie by Gabriel Fauré on the clarinet. Her performance throughout was excellent, perfectly marrying together the sombre opening with the intense and fast-paced central section before returning to the elegiac opening theme at end to the piece.
The String Ensemble were the next to perform, conducted by Mr Williams. They began with an elegant and dramatic delivery of the theme from Downton Abbey. This made for a great contrast with their second piece: In the Hall of the Mountain King. The String Ensemble performed this familiar favourite – made famous by the Alton Towers advert – with a great deal of enthusiasm, and took great enjoyment in the accelerating tempo throughout the piece.
The Clarinet Choir were the next to entertain the audience with upbeat salsa piece Paquito. Conducted by Miss Berry, the girls gave a bouncy and exciting rendition of this piece which certainly got the audience’s toes tapping.
Next the Accidentals changed the pace once again with a beautiful and melancholy performance of The Blue Bird by Charles Villiers Stanford, accompanied by the Girls’ Division String Quartet. The girls’ clear voices and the wonderful musicianship of the quarter were brought together by conductor Mrs Reina who also adapted the piece.
Two Mozart pieces from the Middle School Strings were next on the programme. They played March and Dance to an extremely high standard, particularly for a self-conducted ensemble composed of pupils in Years 7 to 9. This was followed by Year 13 soloist Katie Hurt on the cello. She gave a beautiful performance of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in D.
The Girls’ Division Guitar Group were one of the new ensembles performing at a major event for the first time. Conducted by Mrs Reina, the girls obviously enjoyed playing Maroon 5’s funky hit Moves Like Jagger. The Saxophone Choir, conducted by Miss Berry, continued this upbeat theme with their pieces Oileáin Reel and Mojito.
A traditional piece from the Senior Flute Quartet propelled the audience into the final third of the May Serenade, playing Simple Gifts conducted by Mrs Walker. Isobel Faulkner from Year 13 then took to the stage with her cornet to play Ballet Suite by Tchaikovsky, arranged by Paul Archibald. This included some familiar favourites and involved very impressive breath control.
The Senior Choir were the next to perform, opening their section with Kyrie, a new prayer composed specially for the choir by Mrs Price. This was a very special premiere for the audience at the May Serenade, and the girls gave a beautiful performance. They followed the new piece with Hushabye Mountain from the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and ended their performance with a moving rendition of Fields of Gold.
Before the Senior Concert Band rounded off the evening, Miss Hincks gave a special thanks to all of the Year 13 pupils for their contributions to the musical life of the school. Miss Hincks named each of the Year 13s involved in the May Serenade, which for them is their last musical event as Bolton School pupils, and invited them to the front of the Girls’ Division Great Hall before leading the audience in a round of applause.
The final pieces of the evening were Spanish Dance Number 5 (Bolero) by Moritz Moszkowski, followed by Highlights from Evita. The Senior Concert Band gave a stirring performance of both pieces, with all of the different areas of the band having an opportunity to take the spotlight over the course of the two pieces.
At the end of the performance, Year 13 pupils Polly Adams and Paul Greenhalgh led the Senior Concert Band and the audience in thanking all of the music staff, and particularly Miss Berry for all her hard work in helping their music to progress to this level. This was particularly poignant as twelve members of the Band are in Year 13 and leaving the School this summer. Miss Berry said, “I’m only ever as good as the effort the students put in, and they were excellent tonight.”
There was a retiring collection at the end of the May Serenade for Friends of Oliver, a charity dedicated to helping those affected by FOP (Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva), a rare and disabling genetic condition which causes bone to form in muscles and ligament.
Click here to watch a short playlist of videos from the May Serenade.
Listen to the concert on the School's Soundcloud or by pressing the play button below:
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