A school concert is always a mixed bag. It started with an ambitious rendering of two segments of Vivaldi’s Gloria: a work in progress, as they will be working on this over the next few months. Played slow enough for the strings to keep it up, it became, I have to admit, somewhat turgid in the voices of the singers who themselves are mostly instrumental players doing some compulsory ensemble work.
Once they got going, however (and this was just the chamber music concert: jazz and band performers get a chance later in the year), we heard a number of phenomenal VCE students performing solos and duos, with some pretty wonderful accompanying, too. The concert was held in St Michael’s church, so the acoustics, resounding off the wooden roof, were lovely. So was the warm atmosphere of proud parents, grandparents and friends.
We are in the privileged position of living close enough to an excellent government school that is academically strong, while also taking its music and arts programme very seriously. A number of its students go on to the Victorian College of the Arts, and come back to help out, as did the brilliant guitarist accompanying a somewhat introverted solo performance of Leonard Cohen’s Allelujah. The school is pretty well resourced, so there was a harpsichord for the Vivaldi, and the announcement of some excellent results in the recent Flute competitions. A highlight was a wonderful performance of Ros Bandt’s Meditation for recorder, with Ros sitting in the audience.
The highlight for me, though, were the choral performances: two groups of Year 7 and 8 girls; and the mixed vocal group. All were great, but the vocal group (it needs a name!) was the most heart-wrenching for me, as my boy was singing. Six girls and three boys sang James Taylor’s That Lonesome Road a capella. It’s a most beautiful song, perfect for adolescents. As it happened, Joel is the only tenor in the group, and so he sang the first phrase and two lines later on as a solo (as sung by Taylor in this recording below). He sang with composure and strength, as the line of his parents and grandparents held their breath, as the tears pricked his mother’s eyes, and as shivers of mortality and pride criss-crossed her heart.