CAROLS PROVIDE JOYOUS END TO YEAR

As the final notes of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing emanated from the newly refurbished Organ at the end of the fifth Bradfield Carol Concert, a collective total of 7,500 verses of Charles Wesley’s carol had been sung by the 1,300 attendees and 40 strong choir.

Carols by Candlelight is very much part of Bradfield tradition at Christmas, providing opportunities for pupils and their families to gather in the intimate setting of the College Chapel, take stock at the end of the year and enjoy the transcendant experience of music and singing.

The quality of the Choir continues to grow each year and nowhere is this more evident than in our Faulkner’s pupils. The newest members of the College opened each concert with the outstanding Evie Harrison (LJ), Purdey Jensen (LI), Bella Rank (LJ) and Kaya Van Der Wyck (LK) performing the solo verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

They typified the significant contribution of all the Faulkner’s pupils in both spirit and attitude, a promising sign of things to come. We look forward to seeing the evolution of the choir with their involvement over the next five years.

Two of Britten’s movements from A Ceremony of Carols were sung with passion, energy and enjoyment. The newly formed Chapel Consort Group provided one of many uplifting moments during each service as Elora Cowen (J), Tallulah Halcox (K), Kit Hobart (F), Holly Jones (K), Tom Klafkowski (G) and Freddie Pavey (LH) sang with craft and expertise in a soft prayerful manner.

The beautiful rich sound of the choir was on show throughout Laurdisen’s O Magnum Mysterium. The tranquil Chapel provided the perfect setting as our pupils’ singing told the story about the wonder of the coming of Christ. Equally beautiful was the bell-like sound of the choir throughout Sir David Wilcox’s well-known Ding Dong Merrily on High.

Spontaneous applause erupted during the Sunday concert following Holly and Tom’s solos during O Holy Night. Praise must also be given to Ben Cook (E) and Purdie Jensen who had sung the number at the Tuesday concert, their heartfelt and highly emotional sounds echoing the words of the piece.

These carol concerts would not have been as special without the professionalism of the senior members of the brass ensemble. Katherine Hodson (I), having flawlessly performed the last post at Remembrance, deserves praise again for her consistent performance, as does Toby Small (H) who has performed at the services during each of his five years at Bradfield.

YERMA

Following on from the success of the Summer Play, Blood Wedding, in the Sunken Garden and on tour in Spain, the Drama Department staged another of Federico Garcia Lorca’s famed productions with three well received performances of Yerma, this time in the Old Gym.

The second play in Lorca’s celebrated ‘Rural Trilogy’, Yerma tells the story of a childless woman living in rural Spain.

Her desperate desire for motherhood becomes an obsession that eventually drives her to commit a horrific crime.

Yerma is widely regarded as the best of the three with much of the play rooted in Lorca’s own life.

Nell Petheram (I) excelled in the leading role of Yerma bringing a sensitivity and vulnerability to the role that far exceeded her age.

She was, of course, supported by a strong cast who worked extremely hard to bring Lorca’s vision of 1930’s Spain to life in the Old Gym.

Together they portrayed the powerful themes of isolation, passion and frustration ably, while also navigating the subtler themes of nature, marriage, jealousy and friendship with aplomb. Special mention must be made to Matthew Keel (E), Daisy de Normann (J) and Kit Hurren (G) as the other main characters in Yerma’s story.

“It is a tough play and we did not shy away from its issues. I hope the pupils enjoyed being part of it and watching it”, said Director Nic Saunders following the final performance.

“After introducing the College to Lorca last year with our immersive production of Blood Wedding, I think we took our work a step further and staged this one much more in keeping with Lorca’s intentions.

“In his plays, Lorca aimed to avoid the fuss and clutter of Naturalism and instead, embrace empty spaces, colour, music, song, poetry and feelings. The stripped down and minimalist set in the Old Gym was an attempt to stage the play as he would have intended and I hope he would have approved.”

A massive thank you must be given to Flamenco guitarist, Ramon Ruiz and Flamenco dancers Lourdes Fernandez and Carlos Otero, who brought an authentic sense of Spain to the production. Ruiz’s guitar could be heard throughout the play while Fernandez and Otero appeared in the mist as they took to the stage to dance as the Devil during an atmospheric and stirring ritual scene.

They afforded the pupils an opportunity to work alongside professional performers which helped to lift their own work, as well as that of the production as a whole, to a different level.

£22,000 AND COUNTING RAISED AFTER MICHAELMAS CONCERT

It was another sell-out audience in the Old Gym for this year’s Michaelmas Concert which saw not only the College’s top musical talent perform live on stage but a huge sum of money raised for Cancer Research UK.

The 85-strong Gospel Choir, directed by Kimberley Roberts, opened withstirring renditions of Joyful, Joyful by Hall/Herms and What About Us by Pink. The first half continued with the Saxophone Ensemble, under their new director Shevaughan Beere before the junior and senior winners of the Advanced Instrumental House Music Competition, Archie Beresford-Davies (A) and Holly Jones (K), performed their respective drum and harp pieces.

A debut outing for the Scholars’ Wind Quintet followed as well as numbers by the Bradfield Bellas, and the Jazz Band. However, the standout performance of the show came just before the interval. Jack Browett (H) took to the stage to perform his own original composition Me and You as an introduction to the evening’s charity, Cancer Research UK.

Writing on his fundraising page, Jack explained why the charity is close to his heart. “I’m raising as much as I can to beat cancer. Cancer is happening right now, including in my family, which is why I have written a personal song and am fundraising right now for Cancer Research UK.”

The heartfelt and moving performance was greeted with rapturous applause and, at the time of going to print, the fundraising page has received over £22,000 in donations, which includes money raised by Mr Hanbury and Mr Saunders who ran the Huxham 10.4 mile race, as well as £4,000 through Gift Aid.

The second half of the concert featured the Big Band, Destiny’s Children, the trio of Savannah Johnson (M), Jess Bettesworth (K) and Alma Al-Bader (I), the Chapel Consort, the Brass Quintet and band foursome Tom Houston (F), Tristan Davies (G), Toby Small (H) and Isabelle Pavey (M).

Bradfield Voices, the College’s new competition choir, closed the concert with a breathtaking and emotionally charged rendition of two soaring gospel songs, Wynter’s Promise and Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child. The Michaelmas Concert is our showcase performance of the term; the programme is intended to represent the best of music at Bradfield and the performers certainly lived up to that accolade this year.

Co-educational Independent School of the Year

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