A celebration of musical anniversaries

The Anniversaries Concert marked not only a number of notable celebrations in the world of music, but also one of the final performances by the Year 13 students who approach the end of their time at the School.

“When we were deciding on the themes for this year’s concerts we spotted that there were a number of notable anniversaries of composers’ births or deaths, so we thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if we could create a programme built around anniversaries,” said QE’s Director of Music, Kieron Howe.

The Concert Band opened the evening with the rousing march from the film The Dam Busters, with this year marking the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, although the film came later, in 1954. The date of the concert also coincided with the birth of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee and with the 40th anniversary of the first album of the Swedish supergroup Abba. The band played three Olympic themes – John Williams’ from 1984 and 1996, and Leo Arnaud’s from 1988 – together with a medley of Abba hits.

The Senior Indian Music Ensemble then performed a piece to mark the centenary of Indian cinema. This was followed by Top Brass, who remembered the birth, in 1913, of the animator, producer and director Bob Clampett. He worked on many of the Looney Tunes cartoons and died in 1984, coincidentally on the same date as the concert was held.

The interval was straddled by a celebration of five decades of Beatles’ recording. The Senior String Orchestra combined with the trebles and altos of the Choir in Eleanor Rigby and with the tenors and basses in a Beatles medley.

The Camerata’s performance on the evening encompassed anniversaries from across the centuries and from a range of musical genres. “Although 225 years old, this year Mozart’s 40th Symphony still sounded vibrant and exciting in the hands of the Camerata!” said Mr Howe. The ensemble paid tribute to Edith Piaf, with the title piece from the biopic, La Vie En Rose. “The Camerata’s final piece was a very special piece as its composer is still a pupil at QE: Christopher Georgiou wrote this piece last year to enter the Spring Grove Festival in Hampstead, which he won, receiving his plaque from Simon Callow. At the festival the piece was played by the String Quartet in a fuller arrangement,” added Mr Howe.

""The Camerata handed over to The Symphony Orchestra who performed the overture from Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, The Mikado. The concert coincided with the birth date of the impresario, Richard D’Oyly Carte, who commissioned the opera for the Savoy Theatre in 1884. The final piece was another medley, but from a more modern work – Wicked by Stephen Schwartz, which opened on Broadway ten years ago and still fills the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London eight times a week.

The concert was one of the final performances for the current Year 13 students, who were each invited to pay a tribute to the music staff.  “The boys each made brief speeches about their seven years at QE, which were thoughtful, interesting and, at times, witty,” said Mr Howe.

Mr Howe thanked them for their hard work and dedication over the years and wished them well in their musical and non-musical futures.