Stylish Early Music Soirée

Stylish Early Music Soirée

The Early Music Soirée was a wonderful celebration of instrumental, vocal and choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods of music (pre 1750).

Throughout the day our guest Early Music specialist, Dr Katie de la Matter (Caterham School Visiting Music Teacher) gave workshops and coaching sessions on the harpsichord. Dr de la Matter has performed with a plethora of groups and performers who specialise in historical performances and her expertise was gratefully received by our pupils. She also gave a graceful and polished performance of Handel’s Keyboard Suite No. 1 in Bb Major, HWV 434 followed by a keyboard arrangement of Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga.

A Soirée is a gathering for people for conversation, food, drink and music and much of the music written during Baroque period would have been written for occasions such as these; usually commissioned by wealthy aristocrats or royalty, for example the Margrave of Brandenburg and J S Bach.

Caterham School’s Consort is a new ensemble this academic year and it specialises in performing music from the early Classical period of music and earlier. It is a small and intimate ensemble of string instrumentalists, woodwind and continuo (harpsichord/organ).

Highlights of the instrumental music of the evening were two concerti by J S Bach. The first, Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin, BWV 1060 (first movement) with concertino soloists Abi P and Chup Hei W on the oboe and violin respectively. This was a vibrant and rich performance with busy textures and imitative interplay. The penultimate performance of the evening was the second concerto performance of the evening, all three movements of J S Bach’s triumphant Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G, BWV 1049. The concertino soloists of this piece were the talented Annie L, Lucy B and Alice H on the violin and flutes. The first movement was a lively and bright performance with stunning solo moments as well as uplifting tutti passages throughout. This was swiftly followed by the yearning and emotive Andante movement, with antiphonal dialogue between the orchestra and soloists. The movement concludes with a lyrical and ponderous passage by the flute and two uncertain and unfinished chords. The performance swiftly started with the jaunty Presto movement throughout which all performers embraced the contrapuntal exuberance and interweaving melodic passages.

Praise must go to Catherine Y (Second Year) who carried out the role of continuo player throughout much of the event with real professionalism, confidence and assurance. Catherine is also a gifted organist and violinist and it is fantastic to see her musicianship and confidence continue to flourish.

Lynus L, Ethan G and Oliver G all gave harpsichord interludes throughout the evening; putting their learnings from the masterclass given by Dr de la Matter earlier in the day. Pupils enjoyed the experience of performing some of their pieces they usually perform on the piano on a historical replica and gave authentic and mature performances.

There were four stunning vocal performances throughout the evening; Olivia B performing Giordani’s lyrical and ponderous Caro mio ben. Emily B gave an exquisite performance of Purcell’s Music for a While – demonstrating expert understanding of the song and the style. Ines H-M gave a beautiful performance of Handel’s operatic aria, Ombra mai fu; her excellent projection and musical detail and expression throughout was superb. Tiffany K’s performance of Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga was truly sublime! The clarity and warmth in her performance as well as the expressive, ornate and dynamic melodic embellishments in the de capo of the aria was sumptuous and affecting.

The Chamber Choir delighted the audience with motets by Handel and Purcell. They provided the chorus for Tanya C’s beautiful performance of Purcell’s Dido’s Lament which was mournful and moving. The evening concluded with a jolly madrigal, Morley’s Now is the month of maying. All members of the choir, audience and staff had smiles on their faces and it was a fitting end to a fantastic celebration of early music.

All pupils are congratulated for their musicianship and willingness to perform at this creative evening.

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