Gala Concert, Semester 1 2019
Each semester, St Andrew’s College holds a Gala Concert in the chapel, which is our best and most representative event for showcasing our musical talents.
As per tradition, the concert was kicked off by our fantastic Jazz Band, playing two upbeat numbers, “Sweet Louis Blues” and “Atcha Falaya”. The band is a great size and produces a loud, energetic sound, even aided with a little choreography this time. This was followed up by a few more jazz items, featuring Jesse Dransfield (Fr 2019), Harry Wright (Fr 2017), Sam Wright (fr 2019) and Anthony Rositano (Fr 2018) among others. Fresher Jim Osborne’s “Billy’s Bounce” was a particular highlight, demonstrating a virtuosity at the drum kit that we haven’t seen before.
This concert really reminded us of the diverse musical interests and talents of our college community. Amongst our singers, the more modern side was covered by vocalists Freshmen Kiran Gupta (Dear Mr President) and James Carraro (Words Fail from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’), both of whom are members of the College Choir and have outstanding vocal ranges. Andrew Knight (Fr 2017), currently studying at Sydney Conservatorium, performed Captain Stratton’s ‘Fancy’ by Peter Warlock, a drinking song very much in the sea shanty genre, which was very well sung and quite entertaining.
Amongst our other Sydney Conservatorium instrumentalists were Sam Vail (Fr 2017) and Adrian Whitehall (Fr 2017). Sam played Percy Code’s ‘Zelda’ on trumpet – a bright and uplifting number; and Adrian gave us the Prelude from J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No 2, which was delivered with much energy and pathos. Alex Hewish (Fr 2016) performed the beautiful Nocturne No. 2 by Chopin, a very touching piece in the programme, and she played with great care and feeling.
Towards the end of our programme came our 2019 Artist in Residence, Benjamin Adler, who is a talented violinist and graduate of Sydney Conservatorium who has played with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and his own chamber ensembles. He has been a great asset to the College’s music life, and a great aid with our string ensemble. He performed Bach’s Sarabande from Partita No. 2, demonstrating both his technical mastery of the instrument and his mature understanding of the music, communicating complex and intimate feelings and moods. Ben was then joined by Will Cesta (Fr 2013) and Minami Takahashi (Fr 2014), two of our senior members of College, who performed a creative and dynamic rendition of Schubert’s ‘Erlkönig’, showing us all the great potential for songs to be transcribed for instruments.
The Gala Concert was concluded with our two other music ensembles: the Chamber Ensemble (Chemble) and Choir. Chemble performed a piece entitled “Paean” (a song of praise and triumph) which was composed by the convenor, Titus Grenyer (myself). It was a great pleasure and privilege to have such a talented group of instrumentalists who were willing to perform my own music, and I am very proud of their musicality. After this, a select group of Chemble remained, and drummer Jim Osborne returned to the stage to perform an Irish folk-like song, “The Rising of the Sun”, with the College Choir conducted by Dr Sarah Penicka-Smith. It was punctuated by great choral diction and exactitude, with a flair of improvisation.
On behalf of the College, I would like to thank all the musicians who played (numbering more than thirty!), the convenors of the ensembles, accompanists, and family, friends and fellow members of College who attended, as well as Gail O’Brien and Lorainne Brecard from the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We are all looking forward to the Gala Concert next semester, and as musicians are grateful to have a welcoming yet professional performance opportunity within our own College walls.
Titus Grenyer (Fr 2016)