RGS Guildford courtyard with students

Choral and Orchestral Concert

This term’s Choral and Orchestral Concert took place in Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday 24 April. In front of a large crowd, the audience was treated to a programme of mostly English choral and instrumental music from the twentieth century.

Under the baton of Mr Chambers, the RGS Symphony Orchestra took to the platform for the first half of the concert and delivered an exceptional performance from beginning to end. The orchestra’s performance was marked by precision, expressive phrasing, and a deep understanding of the music. Their rendition of Britten’s “Five Courtly Dances” from Gloriana showcased intricate rhythms and dynamic contrasts. Each section—strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion—contributed perfectly to create a depth of sound that was immensely impressive. In Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, the orchestra navigated the neoclassical textures with finesse. The playful character of the suite came alive, and the musicians seamlessly transitioned between the energetic and rhythmically challenging movements to the more lyrical and plaintive movements with ease. The first half of the concert concluded with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams, which demands both technical prowess and emotional depth from soloist and accompanying orchestra alike. Joseph’s violin solo soared, capturing the essence of the lark in flight as the orchestra provided a sensitive accompaniment, which allowed the soloist’s artistry to shine.

The second half of the concert saw the combined forces of the RGS School Choir and Concerto Consort, united under the direction of Mr Orchard, perform Britten’s St Nicolas. This cantata tells the story of the legendary saint and the miracles that he performed, and it was an honour to welcome the internationally renowned tenor soloist James Gilchrist to sing the title role. From the hushed notes of the opening movement to the grandiose setting of the two congregational hymns that frame the work, the choir’s diction, blend, and expressiveness conveyed the narrative vividly. Their harmonies resonated within the church, evoking moments of both reverence and joy. The orchestral accompaniment, so skilfully played by members of Concerto Consort, interacted with the choir, enhancing the overall texture, creating moments of both grandeur and intimacy. The tenor soloist’s voice filled the space with a performance that was heartfelt, capturing the saint’s compassion and devotion. His clear tone and emotional delivery left a lasting impression and held the audience captivated from the outset.

It was wonderful also to be joined by the choristers of Guildford Cathedral from RGS Prep who added an innocence to the event in their depictions of both the young Nicolas and the three pickled boys whom the saint saves from being consumed by a village during a famine. Their angelic voices blended seamlessly with the other performers, emphasising the communal spirit of the concert.

Throughout the evening, the musicians displayed both impressive skill and musicianship of the highest calibre, making this both such a memorable and captivating concert.

View more photos here.