• Sep
    • 20
    • 2014

Concert Report: Oakham School

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“Built in memory of the Old Oakhakians who lost their lives fighting in World War One, it seemed fitting that Reverie’s concert in the Oakham School Chapel should be based around those composers who were directly influenced by its influence. In this, the centenary year of the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’, the programme centred around works by Gerald Finzi, Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and Benjamin Britten: all musicians who, in one way or another, experienced loss during the war, and who inherited musical values which became synonymous with British national identity.

Opening with ‘When Music Sounds’, set by Associate Composer Toby Young, Reverie went on to exploit the chapel’s space in Britten’s ‘Hymn the the Virgin’. Splitting the choir in two, the solo quartet performed from the back of the chapel; this created an overlapping antiphony between both consorts and an electric tension keenly felt by the audience caught in its midst. The highlight of the first half was surely the coalition of Reverie and the Oakham School Chamber Choir which preceded the interval, performing Finzi’s ‘My Spirit Sang all Day’ and the quasi-madrigalian ‘No Longer Mourn For Me’ by Ralph Vaughan-Williams. Conducted by Robbie Jacobs, the school’s leading singers certainly had Reverie’s members looking over their shoulders with some stunning individual voices blending with great sensitivity – the futures of some of these young singers certainly looks bright!

If ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange’*, then Reverie’s pairing of the late John Tavener’s ‘The Lamb’ with the soul-searching ‘Funeral Ikos’ was its antithesis. Its bleak assessment of mankind was portrayed as Jacobs explored a wealth of textures and dynamics to transform largely repetitive material – seldom performed as a concert work – into a highly organic and emotionally-wrought performance. The concert finished with Herbert Howells’ highly charged setting of the Requiem, written in commemoration of his five year old son Michael who tragically passed away at a young age. Once more the group seamlessly weaved from tutti texture to split choir and solo; particularly poignant for Old Oakhakian Angus McPhee (2010) to whom the final solo of the concert fell.

The stunning chapel on a perfect September’s evening provided the ideal setting for Reverie’s opening concert of the new academic year. Heartfelt thanks must go to both the community and Oakham School, particularly Director of Music Peter Davis, Eleanor Lancelot, Reverend Alex Aldous and Julie, Jane, Gerry and all the catering staff for their superb pizzas!

*The telecommunications giant Orange used Tavener’s setting of ‘The Lamb’ in a 2004 television commercial.”

Angus McPhee