Young talent shines at St Albans Abbey concert

PUBLISHED: 10:37 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 06 May 2010

DURING the years of listening to music I have long ceased to be amazed at the tremendous ability of young people across the district. But Saturday s concert at the Abbey by pupils from St Albans High School for Girls and St Albans School had an extra dime

DURING the years of listening to music I have long ceased to be amazed at the tremendous ability of young people across the district.

But Saturday's concert at the Abbey by pupils from St Albans High School for Girls and St Albans School had an extra dimension which thrilled the packed audience.

For the concert saw the first performance of An Albanian Interlude, a new work by 15-year-old St Albans School student Oliver Till.

This was a mature work, finely orchestrated and well-crafted, which clearly demonstrated Oliver's interest in film composition. It made extremely good use of brass and woodwind to produce tuneful music.

The annual concert had started with Aaron Copland's ever popular Fanfare for the Common Man, a piece which demands - and received - fine trumpet playing.

It continued with Gerald Finzi's choral work Lo, The Full, Final Sacrifice which the combined choir, made up of pupils from the two schools as well as staff, parents and friends, handled extremely well.

But their performance of John Tavener's Funeral Ikos hit an even higher level of quality. This spiritual work, which is heavily influenced by the music of the Orthodox Church, had a completely fresh quality where the voices of the young people shone through.

The main work of the evening was Karl Jenkins' spectacular The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace. The work blends parts of the liturgical Mass with poetry relating to war and also includes the Muslim call to prayer. The upshot is a moving piece of music which places significant demands on both singers and orchestral musicians but resulted in a top-quality performance from the orchestra and chorus.

Former St Albans School music scholar Joe Davis, now studying at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, provided the excellent cello solo in the Benedictus, one of the most popular parts of the entire work, and the guest vocal soloists were soprano Barbara Stout, tenor Ed Goble and baritone Matthew Stiff while the call to prayer was sung by Mehmet Imamzade.

The concert was conducted by Mike Stout, assistant director of music and choral director at St Albans School.

JOHN MANNING

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