Thursday, 18 July 2019

Rhythm sticks prove a hit at music school’s gala concert

Rhythm sticks prove a hit at music school’s gala concert

Henley Music School gala concert | Phyllis Court Club | Sunday, June 23

HENLEY Music School’s annual gala concert at Phyllis Court was a fun and musically enriching event showcasing many of the ensembles and activities on offer at the school.

There were dozens of students taking part — this year’s event apparently included just a sample number from the school’s roll — with an age range spanning primary-school children right through to players in their retirement years, such is the distinctiveness and inclusivity of musical performance.

The whole spectrum of instruments was represented, as well as a few new ones, such as the “Toots” (special small flutes for small hands) and the “Boomwhackers” (plastic rhythm sticks which enable the absolute beginner to participate in group playing).

After a fitting introduction of Samba Samba by “Badgemore School Samba Drumming”, we were treated to all manner of pieces in different genres played by groups of variable sizes and levels, each introduced by Laura Reineke, the CEO and founding director of the school.

There were vocal items too — the “Mini Choir” gave a very sweet rendition of My Dog is a Good Dog, complete with actions, while the “Kodaly” group sang Bow Wow Wow using tonic sol fa hand signs (do re mi), a method of learning to sing more commonly used during our grandparents’ generation.

Weaving throughout the programme was a bit of a Beatles theme.

Hence we heard the “Windies” brass ensemble’s arrangement of I Want to Hold Your Hand — great to hear the tuba being played — with Yellow Submarine and a singalong finale of Here Comes the Sun, which gave the audience a chance to join in with all the instrumentalists.

The Beatles theme was in part a tribute to the late George Harrison’s Material World Foundation, which provides a significant amount of funding to the school.

The confident playing of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida by the String Trio was particularly notable and all players maintained a strong individual line.

We also heard neat and clear syncopated rhythms in Canarios, while the “Big Violins” displayed spirit and verve in Hungarian Romance.

There was a lovely sound from both the mixed “Wind Band” in Chariots of Fire and “Flute Choir” in Invincible March while, in contrast, the Henley Music School’s in-house band “The Lead” performed a very impressive version of Imagine Dragons’ Demons.

Near the end we heard two compositions from the “Music Tech” group, introduced by their course leader Sean Law.

The pieces were inspiring and elements of unexpected sophistication were employed by the young learners.

The “Youthful Orchestra” is for adult returners who have perhaps not played their instruments for many years.

Fittingly, they wear T-shirts with the slogan “All the right notes but not necessarily in the right order” — a line first spoken by Eric Morecambe in the hilarious Morecambe and Wise episode featuring the late André Previn.

However, on this occasion the “Youthful Orchestra” most definitely played the notes in the right order — Weather With You by Crowded House and Lady Marmalade were both full of energy, had a great beat and the audience thoroughly enjoyed them.

Well done to everyone who took part — it takes great commitment and all-year-round practice to put on a concert of this standard.

Maureen Idowu

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