On Thursday 24 September, we were treated to fine evening of music making at the Palladian Instrumental Ensemble competition.
St Andrew’s had three very strong ensembles who auditioned for the chance to be one of the two groups to perform, leaving our Director of Music, Senior Fellow and Vice Principal with the very difficult task of choosing two groups. In the end the choice was made on diversity of entries and our string ensemble had to be eliminated from the running. We want to make mention of all the hard work put in by this ensemble and the wonderful audition and performance they made of Elena Kats-Chernin’s’ Eliza’s Aria’ in the run up to the evening. Their ensemble playing was superb and communication between the performers was warmly engaging. For the Palladian performance, our two ensembles performed at a very high level with Will Cesta, Minami Takahashi and Alice Morgan performing a charming parody of Mozart’s Turkish March, Turkish March alla Volodos all Morgan. As the judges said ‘they showed us how it should be done.’ This fun piece, arranged by the group, and played with great technical skill was a highlight. The cheeky insertion of a saxophone riff from George Michael and Rachmaninov piano concerto, made for a delightful and varied performance with great interaction between the players despite the limitations of the stage setting with the piano off stage and unlit.
Our stage band performed Solar by Miles Davis with a warm big band sound, tight rhythm section led by admirably by Anthony Cheng from the piano, many members contributed with solos, pulling off an entertaining and assured performance.
The performances from other colleges were of an almost universally high level, though one College chose to only enter one group, as a joke, lining up a large group of students clutching instruments in ways that suggested they didn’t know how to play, with music scored with the sole word ‘tacit’. The group remained silent for what seemed like a very long time but was probably not as long as Cage’s 4.33. Another college put together a large group performing a percussive piece mostly on found materials, the obvious enjoyment and hard work put in by this group is to be commended. Another college put forward two strong contenders, a large string ensemble, who played with lovely intonation and feeling and a trio of piano, cello and violin who played Dumky Opus 90, 5th Movement by Dvorak, full of feeling and precision. The evening was won by a quirky setting of Si Tu Vois Ma Mere from the sound track to Midnight in Paris, obviously a favourite movie of the judges, as this piece, while fun, had little technical precision, nor art to recommend it as overall winner.
Our College placed second with the Turkish March and our stage band received a highly commended. This puts Andrew’s with a firm lead of 5 points. With one more category to go, Drama Ensemble, this means the worst outcome is an equal first and St Andrew’s has won the Palladian Cup.
We send our congratulations to all involved in the evening.