On 18 March, Old Palace of John Whitgift independent girls’ school in Croydon, performed a whole school concert at Fairfield Halls as part of their 125th birthday celebrations. The Celebration Concert was an evening of musical excellence that included almost 300 performers from Reception through to Year 13. They were joined in the orchestra by current and former parents of Old Palace musicians, as well as a number of Old Palace Alumnae.
The evening commenced with a heartwarming performance of ‘We’re so proud of our school’ (Paul Field) by the Lower Preparatory choir - the youngest performer was just four years old. Their rendition was warmly welcomed by the appreciative audience and it set the tone for an evening of outstanding musicianship.
Next up were the Preparatory and Training Orchestras who performed the theme tune to Star Wars with great aplomb. They were then followed by the first of two performances from the ever popular Steel Pans with Love is in the air (Harry Vanda and George Young) and Dangerous (Calvin Harris). Upper Preparatory Choir sang ‘Can you hear me’ (Bob Chilcott) with grace and poise before the return of Steel Pans who executed flawless renditions of Jazz Waltz No 2 (Dmitri Shostakovich) and Rather Be (Clean Bandit).
Concluding the first half of the show was the Senior Orchestra with Flute Solos (Bonnie Callaghan and Carol Leader) who gave a beautiful performance of Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major: 1 – Allegro (Domenico Cimarosa).
The second half commenced with the String Orchestra and the Maggini Quartet – the internationally renowned chamber ensemble. They have been the Old Palace quartet-inresidence for eight years and they visit the school 3-4 times a year to work on various projects devised by Director of Music at Old Palace, Gareth Hemmings. Their collective performance of Concerto Grosso (Ralph Vaughan Williams) was both moving and mesmerising.
The concert The concert finale was a breath taking performance of Requiem Op. 48 (Gabriel Fauré) by Senior Choir, Staff Choir, Polyphonic, Years 6-8 Choir, Preparatory Polyphonic, String Orchestra, the Maggini Quartet and a Soprano solo from Bonnie Callaghan.
This piece of music was an exceptional ending to an evening of outstanding musical endeavour. The concert was a true demonstration of the rich and diverse musical achievements of the school’s young musicians.
Director of Music, Gareth Hemmings commented, “We are tremendously proud of the musical heritage of Old Palace School and of the hard work that the girls all put into their music day in and day out throughout the year.
“We have a wonderful team of musicians working with the girls to inspire and encourage them, and our continued relationship with groups such as the Maggini Quartet are an essential part of our musical provision for all our girls at school. We are lucky to have a number of parents and alumnae who are professional musicians and were thrilled that they were able to join us playing with our students in the orchestra.
“It may be a cliché to say that Music is a universal language but its inclusive nature is truly celebrated at Old Palace and to involve all the members of the school community 125th celebration made the occasion all the more special.”