Celebrating words through music

Celebrating words through music

Portraits of Poetry, QE’s first major concert of the academic year, gave centre-stage to the spoken word a s well as to the School’s young musicians.

With performers drawn mainly from the Lower School (Years 7–10), there was music to suit all tastes, from the edgy complexity of Charlie Mingus’s Better Get It In Your Soul played by the Jazz Band to the simple beauty of the Sinfonietta’s rendition of Robert Burns’ 1794 song, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.

The concert began with the School Choir singing Benjamin Britten’s setting of the nursery rhyme, Old Abram Brown.

Several boys gave poetry readings during the event in the Shearly Hall. Year 7 pupil Lohit Seera read William Blake’s The Lamb – counterpart to his most famous poem, The Tyger – after which the Flute Ensemble performed John Tavener’s 1982 setting of the poem to music.

Year 11’s Tristan Boldy read Seamus Heaney’s The Wishing Tree, before the Saxophone Ensemble concluded the first half by performing a setting of it written by another Irishman, fiddle player (and medical doctor) Seamus McGuire.

After the interval, the Concert Band played two pieces following readings. Seven boys read Laurence Binyon’s famous remembrance poem, For the Fallen, before the ensemble played Keith Terrett’s Fallen Heroes. The seven were: Surya Dhaka, of Year 8; Joshua Han, of Year 11; Sathu jan Manmatharajah, of Year 11; Ugan Pretheshan, of Year 7; Tharan Sutharson, of Year 7, and Dhruv Syam, of Year 8. Then Year 11 boy Oscar Smith recited Goethe’s Der Erlkönig (The Erl-King) and the Concert Band performed modern composer Scott Watson’s setting of the gothic tale of the death of a child assailed by supernatural beings.

The evening was hosted by Director of Music Cheryl Horne, who said: “We aimed to provide considerable variety in both the music and the poetry performed. It was also an opportunity for the Year 7 boys to take to the stage for the first time at QE to showcase what they have been working on in their ensembles this term.”

Her Music department colleagues, Jen Brown, Tom Jack and Eluned Pritchard, accompanied various ensembles, while Biology teacher Simon Hall provided the accompaniment for the Celli’s performance of the Rondeau from the incidental music Purcell wrote as a setting for the 1676 revenge tragedy, Abdelazer.

The B Minors vocal harmony group are self-conducted during performances by Year 11 boy Jaison Jeyaventhan, although they were rehearsed by English teacher Lucy Riseborough. The Junior Indian Ensemble was directed by four boys: Year 13 pupils Saranyan Kugapiragasam, Abbeykeith Kugasenanchettiar and Shiran Gnanaraj, together with Year 12’s Tharshan Sriskantha.

Headmaster Neil Enright praised both musicians and readers – noting Oscar Smith’s “impeccable German” – for serving up a culturally rich evening. He noted musical highlights including the jazz that featured quite heavily in the second half of the programme, when there were performances by Friday Jazz – so-called because of the day on which they meet – as well as the Jazz Band. “The audience were treated to some impressive improvised solos.”