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Promenade Concerts WCS Wells Cathedral School Independent Prep Somerset England

Promenade Concerts

The annual Promenade Concerts are always highlights in the School’s musical calendar, and this year was no exception!

Throughout the Brass and Percussion Promenade Concert, pupils performed solo and chamber music spanning eight centuries from all of the far-flung spaces of the beautifully lit Cathedral, including on natural trumpets and sackbuts! We were delighted to be joined by members of the String Department and guest artists John Kenny and Letty Stott, our own Head of Performance, who played ancient Roman brass instruments in the UK premiere performance of Lior Rosner’s Echoes of the Ancients. The concert culminated in a powerful and moving performance of music from the motion picture Gladiator.

Asked about her experience at her first Promenade Concert, Lily (Year 10) commented;

My first Brass Prom Concert was absolutely amazing and it has been one of my favourite things I have done. One of the things I liked in particular would be the fact that there were so many different ensembles and playing all different types of music. Doing the Prom Concert was so different to anything I have done before because the audience could choose where they stood so they could stand in any position that they liked and could even walk around during the performance. Having to listen to the end of the previous performance for our cue to start was also very different.”

Another thing that gave an extra dimension to the Concert was the low lit Cathedral that added to the theme. One of the things that was challenging was that we had to move around a lot to get to our next performance quietly while other performances were in progress. This was one of the best things that I have ever done and I can’t wait until the next one!

Pupils from the Woodwind and String Departments presented a truly stunning Promenade Concert in Wells Cathedral on Tuesday 30th January. The Concert was particularly well attended and many commented that this was one of the best Wind and String Proms in recent years. Particular highlights from the Woodwind Department were the senior quintet with an elegant version of the Damase Dix Sept Variations for Wind Quintet and a fully choreographed performance from our recorder trio of a work by Willem Wander Van Nieuwkerk. The senior string orchestra filled the Nave with Elgar’s glorious Introduction and Allegro with solo string parts taken by Camilla, Revekka, Riana and Harry (Lower Sixth), while the audience in the North Transept were spellbound by an extraordinary version of Mendelssohn’s Octet, with the second cello part played with huge virtuosity on the Double Bass by Sean (Upper Sixth).

The final Promenade Concert on Tuesday 6th February was the culmination of Bach Day – a full 12 hours of performances of works by Johann Sebastian Bach throughout the Cathedral’s many amazing spaces. The concert was performed by the Early Music Ensemble and presented three Bach concertos: Brandenburg 4 for solo recorders and violin, Brandenburg 5 for flute, violin and harpsichord, and the Double Concerto for oboe and violin. These remarkable pieces, complex both technically and musically, were given assured performances that sizzled with vibrant energy in the fast movements, and luxuriated in the Cathedral’s generous acoustic in the beautiful slow movements. Perhaps most sublime was the slow movement of the Double Concerto with its pizzicato string accompaniment supporting Harold (Upper Sixth) and Emma (Year 11)’s oboe and violin dialogue – the feeling of the audience being completely absorbed in the music was palpable. While congratulations go to all the soloists, special mention must be made of James (Upper Sixth) who performed the famously fiendish harpsichord solo in Brandenburg 5 with such poise, and to Emma (Year 11) whose vibrant energy as violin soloist in both Brandenburg 4 and the Double Concerto inspired the whole ensemble.