This year’s Anderson High School Spring Concert took place on Tuesday in the AHS games hall and featured a tightly packed but well paced programme of music covering a wide range of styles.
The one and a half hour show gave the assemblage of proud parents, fellow pupils and public a chance to sample some of the work undertaken over the past months by the young music scholars and teaching staff.
The concert opened with the AHS School Orchestra which, despite the unruly acoustics of the games hall, produced a professional, full bodied and balanced sound as they adeptly recited pieces by Rimsky-Korsakoff and Haydn.
After a rapid changeover No Strings Attached took to the floor with three up-tempo traditional North American tunes.
The all female school choir swiftly followed with an animated performance featuring a gospel song complete with handclaps and tambourine shake-age that raised wide smiles of appreciation from the audience.
Next up were the Brass Ensemble with renditions of Scarborough Fair and A Little Fugue; their mellow tones and building dynamics ably filled the hall.
The String Ensemble, featuring the dynamic duo of last year’s Young Fiddler of the Year Maggie Adamson and this year’s title winner Chapman Cheng on first violins, followed with a jaunty selection of pieces from The King and I and Delibes’ cheeky Pizzicati.
I was intrigued to see the steel drums set up to the side of the floor and wasn’t disappointed when the Steel Band launched into a funky adaptation of Van McCoy’s 1975 classic The Hustle, which demonstrated the breadth of music embraced by the AHS. Then came Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot, aptly titled considering the temperature outside on the fine spring evening.
Unreel, with their contemporary take on a classic traditional tune, were next with The Rolling Ridge.
I had been looking forward to the Quintet +1 choir, as they were one of the highlights of the recent Schools Music Festival. The six piece female choir began their faultless performance with the beautifully haunting Agnus Dei, written for them by their teacher and mentor Deirdre Hayward. Next were A La Cart with a comedic song about a young Mozart chopping up his harpsichord to build a go-kart, complete with chorus of “Beep beep, vroom vroom”. The song had been stuck in my head for weeks after the last time I heard them perform it and I’m humming it as I write.
The Reed Ensemble had the task of following, and did so with music that challenged both audience and performer. The tense, discordant tonalities and awkward polyrhythm of the pieces created moods in stark contrast to most of the other performances, and for me the Reed Ensemble were the highlight of the evening. A brave and well-executed presentation.
Lana Thomson, the first of the solo performers, was next with a rip roaring, glissando filled accordion caper that was met by a roar of applause from spectators and fellow performers. Multi instrumentalist Lana played and sang in four other ensembles during the performance and is one of the most naturally talented performers I have witnessed in recent years.
Fiddle Finale began their set with a reel selection from Iain MacPhail. Their second piece provided a poignant moment to the proceedings as teacher Alan Gifford introduced the Heroes of Longhope, a tune dedicated to the Orkney Lifeboat crew who lost their lives 40 years ago.
The second solo performance came courtesy of the eminently watchable John Peterson, an astonishingly accomplished drummer who recently achieved the rare accolade of a distinction pass in his grade 8 exam. His piece, performed to a backing track, was a compound time jazz workout that swung hard.
Tunester were the penultimate performers with My Wife’s a Drunkard. The multi-instrumental combo that includes fiddles, accordion, jangling guitars and modern bass and drums, are currently putting the final touches to an album that will be available very soon. I’ve heard a sneak preview and it sounds very promising indeed.
The concert culminated with a rendition of Amazing Grace featuring instrumental teacher Peter Woods on bagpipes accompanied by all of the evening’s performers, numbering around 80. A rousing conclusion to a varied and entertaining evening of music.