Yet another new performance venue for me, the Carol Nash Hall in the new building of Chetham's school. It is a small concert hall, all on one level with enough space for a chamber orchestra or small ensembles to perform in a more intimate setting. It is light and modern with sound-boarded walls, but without raked seating or a raised performing dais, viewing is not optimal.
This was a two hour concert presenting compositions by students of Chetham's School, and featured composers from all the school's years from Year 8 to Year 13.
Not only this, but the difference in compositional style was quite eclectic too.
We heard some very modern and experimental music from composers Liam Noonan's 'Drowned Out', and Jacob Fullalove's 'Conscientia'; some intellectually clever pieces such as Max Bilbe's 'Rondo De-Constructed', and Tammas Slater's 'Demeter'; an interesting short saxophone quintet 'Toccatina' by Fergus McGregor who openly admits to not particularly liking his own composition, through to some lovely melodic and harmonic pieces such as 'Hest Bank' by the event's youngest composer Dominic Downs.
For me though, each of the two halves of the afternoon's concert had a highlight, and to choose between them as my favourite is impossible, they were both fantastic. In the first half we were treated to an absolutely lovely linear melody played on piano and violin only, but in my mind this piece really needs orchestrating, maybe even turning it into a choral piece. It was very emotive and passionate writing with a film score quality. Played by Alexandra Webber (violin) and Jasmin Allpress (piano), the piece was 'Une Priere Pour Paris' by Lucy Farrimond. Perhaps the more mature composition of the two came as the opening piece to the second half. This was scored for string quartet, electric bass guitar, drum kit, with the piano and vocals played and sung by the composer herself. It had a very pop power ballad feel to the music, but was somehow a little more restrained that those heard by Whitney Houston et al, but I have the feeling that we will be hearing much more from this talented young lady, who, according to the programme is leaving the UK to study film scoring, composition and violin at Boston, USA's Berklee College starting in September. I wish her every success. The song was ' Believe In Yourself', and the composer / performer, Francesca Rijks.
I didn't say, and although some of the pieces in this concert were not, I suspect the vast majority of them were actually World Premier Performances.
Chetham's School give their composers regular opportunities to have their music performed, and the next such opportunity will be on the 29th June.
Further information about the music in this concert, and about the school in general can be found by visiting the Chetham's website, www.chethams.com
Reviewer: Mark Dee
Reviewed: 12th March 2016