On 20th March St. Mary’s Church welcomed both The John Lyon School and Northwood College for what is likely to be the first of many joint concerts in the upcoming years. The concert featured a large orchestra comprising of almost 50 students, a jazz band of 15 students and a choir of nearly 100 students!
First to perform was the joint orchestra, playing Beethoven’s Allegretto movement of Symphony No. 7. After first being performed in Vienna 1813 at a charity concert for wounded soldiers, it received tremendous critical acclaim, so much so that the audience demanded that the Allegretto be encored immediately! The strings played the largest part in this piece, handling the melody with eloquence, with the brass and woodwind providing their accompaniment with confidence. The next work is perhaps better known, Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Many will recognise this melody from the television series The Apprentice. Led by Lewis Johnston (Year 10), the strings were able to recreate the almost agitated feel of the piece, with this time the woodwind and brass in particular playing more crucial roles.
The mood of the evening then took a U-turn when the Northwood College and John Lyon jazz bands took the stage. Northwood College opened up with Doin’ That Thing by Leroy Vinnegar, a self-taught bassist from Indianapolis. This piece proved to be highly entertaining, with arguably the standout solo being provided from Mala Pandit on the Clarinet. This was preceded by the legend Charles Mingus’ Better Git It In Your Soul. The piece is so unique as it requires moments of very tight, highly technical playing, whereas other parts sound very chaotic, with multiple instrumentalists soloing simultaneously. This reflected Mingus’ personality, who was sometimes calm and at other times ferocious. The melody of the piece was handled with confidence, with almost every performer having a solo. John Lyon’s quintet jazz band then performed Red Baron by Billy Cobham. This contrasted nicely with the fast and frenzied Better Get It In Your Soul, with Red Baron having a more funk and calm feeling to it, with multiple vamp and solo sections giving plenty of opportunity for the instrumentalists to show off their creativity. Kaze Morrison (Upper Sixth) and Josh Chukwudum (Upper Sixth) in particular impressed with their virtuosic solos on the guitar and piano, as well as Arjun Patel (Upper Sixth) providing highly complex fills on the drums.
The start of Handel’s Messiah marked the second half of the evening, with both students from John Lyon and Northwood College singing in four part harmony. The Messiah was composed in 1741 in London for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, with Handel attempting to use his already large reputation to ensure that it gained popular attention – and it certainly did. The choir sang the popular Part I of the Messiah, including 18 different movements with a tremendous degree of confidence. However, the choruses were broken up with a plethora of solos provided by both John Lyon and Northwood College pupils. Benedict Tate (Lower Sixth) was perhaps the standout soloist from John Lyon, handling the ninth movement masterfully, along with Zara Siddiqi and Claire Gordon-Brown also singing phenomenally. In usual Messiah fashion, the infamous Hallelujah chorus ended the evening, with the choir being able to produce a majestic sound in the marvellous acoustic of St. Mary’s Church.
All in all, the Spring Concert was very successful, managing to sell out several days before the show. Many thanks must go to the Lyonian Chorus - a choir comprised of John Lyon parents - for being able to bolster an already large sound produced by the joint choir. Thanks also go to all the staff who made the event possible and also all the students for their time and dedication to the event.
View images from the Spring Concert gallery here.