Evening of Fine Music, in review

Finn Clarke (L), Sarah Zhu (top R), Big Band

Finn Clarke (L), Sarah Zhu (top R), Big Band

By Kirsten Knight, Head of Cocurricular Music 

On Saturday 5 September, eight of our top Year 12 musicians performed in our “Evening of Fine Music”. We were lucky to be able to have a small live audience in the TB Millar Hall, as well as additional audience members joining us via live stream. The music this year was of an exceptionally high standard, with each featured musician keeping the audience captivated. 

The concert was opened by Elisabeth Gregory singing Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”. With her beautiful performance of this Jazz classic, one would not have guessed that Elisabeth is fairly new to solo singing. Elisabeth’s performances also featured a trumpet solo, a soulful opening to the evening. 

Elisabeth Gregory

Elisabeth was followed by Douglas Toyne, playing another Jazz classic, “Misty” by Erroll Garner. He capably led from the violin a Jazz trio combined with a string quartet. The arrangement, by Douglas himself, perfectly blended smooth string sounds with the Jazz trio allowing his solo violin lines to sing over the top. 

Violinist Doug Toyne  

There was more Jazz to come as Liam van der Vyver took to the piano playing two of his own arrangements, as well as an original called “Song for Pat”. Liam’s solos were brilliantly complex, and his supporting ensemble of drums and bass guitar were right with him as the group communicated throughout the performance resulting in a tightly polished ensemble. 

Michael Troy was the next featured performer to take to the stage, first singing an Italian aria “Vittoria mio core” by Carissimi, accompanied by Mrs Bronwyn Brown. Michael’s well-trained operatic voice filled the hall with sound. He then took to the piano to give an absolutely divine performance of the second movement of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto (No.5), with a string quartet covering the orchestral accompaniment role. 

Michael Troy

Our fifth performer, Finn Clarke, performed his whole set completely solo, beginning aptly with his own composition named “Solitude”. Finn’s guitar playing was mesmerising and varied as he segued through three works, skilfully evoking different emotions and colours. We were lucky to share this evening with Finn, given it was also his 18th birthday! 

From there we moved in a classical direction with the beautifully serene “Méditation” from Thaïs, by Massenet, played with passion and control by Monahan Hazlehurst. Monahan’s violin playing held the audience’s attention as he took us on this romantic musical journey, accompanied serenely by the Corelli Chamber String Orchestra conducted by Mrs Caroline Suthers. 

Monahan Hazlehurst

We were then delighted by the huge, warm sound of our Big Band with trombone soloist Ethan Fisher. The band conducted by Mr Ben Marston played Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip?”. A few minutes in we were treated to an energetic solo by Ethan. It was wonderful to hear the flexibility and power of the trombone in Ethan’s capable hands. 

Our final performer in this concert was Sarah Zhu, playing what I consider one of the most difficult pieces in the viola repertoire, Paganini’s “Sonata per la Grand Viola”. Sarah did justice to every virtuosic element of this demanding work, accompanied by a Symphony Orchestra created for this event, under the baton of Mrs Caroline Suthers. This final performance was certainly a jaw-dropping way to top off a brilliant night of music. 

I am grateful beyond words that this night of music was able to go ahead, as COVID-19 has disrupted so many of our live events this year. There were many people on stage and behind the scenes who contributed to making this night a success. I will mention just a few. Thank you to Mr Dylan Mordike for taking on the MC role for the evening. Thank you to Mr Tim Minehan and his Media Crew for the many, many hours of preparation and for operating the cameras on the night. Thank you to Mr David Burcher for working on the sound desk, and to Mr Nick Akhurst and the Tech Crew for lighting up the evening.

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