Music at Millfield, 5th May 2017

Ensemble music-making is alive and very well, based on the performances in the second ‘Music at Millfield’ of the academic year. Through the course of the evening, the audience were treated to music from Beethoven to the Beatles, and from symphony orchestra to four-piece percussion ensemble. Always a popular group, Jazz Band began proceedings with two classic choices, including Feeling Good with soloist, Susanna Khalkacheva. They were followed by Brass Ensemble, who opted for a classical programme with works by Humperdinck and Praetorius. The Augmented 6ths continued the first half in style with a beautiful rendition of Christina Perri’s ‘A Thousand Years’. Following on, as a complete contrast, String Orchestra gave a moving performance of Elgar’s ‘Sospiri’ (Sighs), a piece full of extreme emotion and tension. Either side of the interval was the turn of Percussion Ensemble, who performed two very different pieces, the first a crowd-pleasing Latino-influenced marimba work, and the second showing off the various performance techniques that can be used with un-tuned, graduated drums.

The remainder of the second half was devoted to Millfield’s two most prestigious ensembles: Camerata and the Millfield Orchestra. Camerata began with the joyful ‘Magnificat in B-flat’ by Stanford, which was followed by an arrangement of ‘Blackbird’ by Paul McCartney and John Lennon that shone the spotlight on the sopranos. Eric Whitacre’s ‘Lux Aurumque’ was next in Camerata’s programme, a work full of contrasting colours and shimmering chord clusters. To complete Camerata’s pieces, they upped the tempo with ‘I’m a Train’, as a fun end to their slot. Finally, the Millfield Orchestra finished the concert with a bang by performing the finale of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a highly challenging piece that constantly moves forward, and provided a suitably spectacular ending to a brilliant concert.

This term’s ‘Music at Millfield’ has really built on the success of the concert of the same name and type in December. The students have tackled more technically challenging music, and brought a new level of interpretation to their performances on the night. All in all, the concert was a great success and really displayed the diversity of music-making that Millfield has to offer.

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