Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Musical youths are thriving in Henley

YOUTH music is thriving in Henley, as evidenced by recent concerts given locally by two vibrant

YOUTH music is thriving in Henley, as evidenced by recent concerts given locally by two vibrant and resourceful groups of young musicians,

writes Trevor Howell

The first featured the Henley Music Centre, run by cellist Paul Cox in collaboration with Anna Del Nevo’s Henley Suzuki Violin Group. It has been bringing groups of young violinists and cellists together regularly on Saturday mornings at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road. The standard of playing achieved by the musicians is remarkable.

The second involved Henley Junior and Senior Choirs, founded less than a year ago by Henley Choral Society and its recently appointed musical director, Ben Goodson.

Membership is growing in the juniors, but it’s clear that more secondary schoolchildren need convincing that it’s cool to sing.

Nonetheless, both choirs are already showing considerable versatility and adapting quickly to part-singing and different vocal styles.

HENLEY Music Centre’s summer concert, held jointly with the Henley Suzuki Violin Group at the Christ Church Centre, showed just what can be achieved with ambition and motivational tuition.

The Suzuki Group began the concert with a mass rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon, involving almost all of the performers, aged from eight to 16. The slow tempo was kept remarkably steady throughout.

Different groups of violinists, starting with the youngest and working upwards, then produced a range of performances, including Bach minuets, Brahms’s Waltz and some lively, foot-tapping Klezmer pieces that were dispatched with confidence and energy.

This section of the programme culminated in an impressive performance of the first movement of Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor with cello accompaniment.

The second section opened with the younger Vivaldi Superstrings performing a suite of American folk songs. The more advanced Henley Youth Chamber Orchestra then continued with some well-executed settings of popular pieces, including Williams’s Star Wars, Strauss’s Blue Danube, and, most impressive of all, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, with its truncated versions of all 12 movements.

Here, some players had small solos to play from time to time, requiring careful counting to ensure their entries were on cue. It was an impressive achievement.

All proceeds, totalling £200, went to Henley’s Chiltern Centre for disabled children.

Both groups operate under the umbrella of the Eureka! Foundation, which has some exciting plans for celebrating its 20th anniversary next year.

Trevor Howell

UNDER canvas and on dry grass, competing with the regatta’s unpredictable public address system and the BBC’s camera drone, Henley’s new youth choirs gave their all in front of a receptive crowd of parents and regatta faithfuls under conductor Ben Goodson.

Accompaniment was provided by David Smith on the keyboard.

On first were the Juniors â?? mainly girls aged between eight and 11 â?? with five songs:

Bad Guys

Consider Yourself


Tony Chestnut
, and

These were rhythmically performed with great attention to the baton.

Consider Yourself

was split effectively into two parts and

Tony Chestnut

The Seniors appeared next. Fewer in number and minus some of their more experienced sopranos, they were up against stiff competition from the loudspeakers. They nonetheless acquitted themselves creditably with four attractive songs:

I’m Born Again, Bridge over Troubled Water, Shenandoah and When I Hear Music

There was some good part-singing in

Bridge over Troubled Water

was a particularly successful arrangement, including a brave solo from the choir’s only boy.

When I Hear Music was an ambitious but enjoyable choice â?? its difficult harmonies keeping the choir on its collective toes.

Ben Goodson is providing choir members with an excellent grounding in how to sing, together with a wide and varied repertoire. Most importantly, he is also making it ‘cool’ and fun. We look forward to watching their progress over the next few years.

Review: Trevor Howell

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