Usually on a cold February Sunday evening, I watch Top Gear and then a well earned doze. How fortunate I was to listen to The Shrewsbury School singers and instrumentalists performing in the one thousand year old, St. Alkmund's Church last Sunday.
By invitation of the present Vicar, Reverend Richard Hayes, Old Salopian and Choregus in the late 1950’s, the evening began with the school Chapel Choir expertly conducted by Alex Mason. We welcomed Jonty Binns singing as counter tenor the solo of Orlando Gibbons Record of John. This was a beautifully sung 17th Century anthem, and well balanced choir in support. Maybe Jonty could on this occasion have been given a ‘mike’ to have helped with the balance, but he has perfect pitch, a fine voice, and should have a good future ahead of him. The String Orchestra never disappoint. The Serenade for Strings by Elgar was perfect. Considering the young age of the students it was a very professional and polished performance.
We were then treated to a clarinet concerto by Louis Spohr. I must confess I had never heard this work before. The young soloist Dorit Hasselberg really made this work enjoyable to listen to. A recurring theme throughout always keeps us attentive! I do hope we can hear her repeat his Concerto No 2 in E Flat Major. Well done to the orchestra who supported Dorit, but never overpowered the soloist. Thank you for introducing it to us. We come to be both entertained and educated.
Finally Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The musicians all excelled in this marvellous work. Team work and lightness of touch were both there when needed. The music is always so busy, and for me I was so glad you managed to nail the 3rd movement – the most difficult. The full orchestra gave the very appreciative audience a finale which was quite outstanding. Well done, in particular as we all know what a busy schedule pupils have at The Schools. We are so privileged to be able to hear some quite excellent music expertly played. Without any shadow of a doubt, Shrewsbury School musicians are in the premiership of public schools' music.
St. Alkmund's, after nearly a million pound refurbishment was an inspired choice. More please, Mr. Moore!