Year 10 pupil Harsh Hingorani and Director of Music Mr Huw Jones reflect on 2019’s Duet Philharmonic, an enormous symphony orchestra and chorus made up of the best-of-the best from British schools, which comes together every two years for an intensive musical course followed by a concert of large complex works.
The Duet Philharmonic course is a course aimed at school pupils from across the UK, where there is a choir and an orchestra that perform different pieces by famous composers.
This year at the concert in the Royal Festival Hall, the orchestra performed Mahler’s Symphony No 6 and the choir joined the orchestra to perform Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. A decision that was made during the course itself was that the orchestra would also perform an extra piece, the overture from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Wagner, which opened the evening.
I was singing the tenor part in the choir, and the rehearsals for the Stravinsky were very intense as it was extremely difficult to learn. When we learnt the repertoire, we merged with the orchestra to rehearse the work together. The first run-through with the orchestra sounded promising but needed a bit of tidying up. In the end, the whole thing sounded beautiful, and definitely gave justice to Stravinsky’s interesting techniques, such as endless time signature changes and clashing notes.
The Royal Festival Hall was breathtakingly huge, and the view from the stage was amazing. The hall seated approximately 2,500, with all seats sold out. The stage was also very capacious and easily allowed the orchestra to be seated with a lot of space left over. There were also choir stalls under the organ façade where we were seated.
Overall it was an amazing experience to work with other pupils from different cities and bring about this beautiful repertoire. I will miss all those intense rehearsals.
Mr Huw Jones
This year it was a delight to have five John Lyon boys involved in the Duet Philharmonic’s biennial course, two more than when we first were invited to participate in the project featuring pupils from some of the very finest schools two years ago.
The course once again was held at Wellington College in Berkshire, culminating in a closing concert at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank with a complex repertoire of Mahler, Stravinsky and Wagner.
Congratulations to John Lyon Musicians Year 11 Nicholas Berezovsky and Lower Sixth Sebastian Clifford-Varley for their performances as part of the orchestra on first violin and trombone respectively, and to Nathan Cuttica (U6), Harsh Hingorani (Y10) and Jude Hedges-Robinson (U6) for their singing in the choir.