MUSIC: Concert showcases supreme talent

Ripon Grammar School’s exceptional spring concert is one we will all remember, while the impact our departing director of music has made on RGS will ensure he is never forgotten. ANIKA SCHWARZE-CHINTAPATLA reports

THOUGH our spring concert was not the final one that our departing director of music Mr Seymour will lead, it was definitely one he will be remembered for.

“I am so very grateful to the students who performed in this concert and to those who performed in all the concerts during my time at RGS,” said Mr Seymour, who will be taking up the position of director of music at Ampleforth College in September.

He particularly praised the students' dedication and enthusiasm: “It lifts the performance to something meaningful and special and that keeps me going. I'm grateful for their trust; it is always about the students and their desire to learn new things and the enthusiasm in which they pursue this. 

“No less important is the dedication of my colleagues who give their all and inspire our students every day. They played a huge part in making the spring concert - and all concerts - happen and it simply couldn't have without them,” he said.

The first half of the concert included our guitar ensemble's version of Bohemian Rhapsody, percussion ensemble's The Greatest Show and our newly-formed piano trio playing Mozart and Faure, along with performances by our brass ensemble, junior strings, wind band, chamber orchestra, Musicality, senior girls’ and chamber choir.

However, the highlight of the night was the outstanding performance of Haydn's Nelson Mass.

The chamber orchestra combined with our senior choirs to perform this extremely demanding work, and what a fantastic result it was, as the sound filled Holy Trinity Church, the venue contributing to a very powerful performance.

Beginning with the immense Kyrie, and a dark and foreboding trumpet fanfare, the whole choir instantly filled the church with awe.

Featuring soloists Susie Morgan (soprano), Rafaella Shiers (soprano), Macy Raine (alto) James Kitchingman (tenor) and Alfie McEvoy (bass), the first movement was followed by the Gloria - predictably the most upbeat and joyful of all the movements.

Harry Edwards (bass) then took over the solo for the Qui tollis, which alludes to the Tuba mirum of Mozart's Requiem as it, contrasting to the Gloria, intended to serve as a tribute to Haydn's deceased colleague and friend.

Next the Credo featured both Barnaby Sladden (tenor) and Geordan Branton (bass) along with Susie and Macy who once again took on the demands of soprano and alto, leading on to the much slower and reflective Sanctus.

The audience was then treated to the more unusual Benedictus, made up of a sequence of interactions between soothing soloists (Susie, Macy, Barnaby and Alfie) and the stormy chorus.

After a climactic end to the Benedictus, where we saw the brass join the choir in an overwhelming polyphony, the evening ended with an outstanding Agnus Dei where the soloists (Susie, Macy, James and Geordan) featured as the main attraction of the movement. Of course, their parts would not be the same without the chorus and so the whole piece triumphantly ends in a dramatic fugal style.

After the spring concert performance, soloist Geordan said: "As my first ever solo in a concert, it went better than I could ever have imagined. It was a huge work to take on but it was definitely worth the hard work. We're all very grateful to Mr Seymour."

I, for one, am proud to have been part of this amazing performance and am so grateful for all Mr Seymour's hard work. Without him, this couldn't have happened and I'm sure everyone in the audience would agree that he did an amazing job. He is going to be dearly missed and definitely deserves an immense thank you! Ampleforth's gain is our loss, but we are sure he will be as successful there as he has been here.

Anyone who spends any time in the music department knows that Mr Seymour is the life and spirit that motivates us all to be there. Without his never-ending enthusiasm and determination to get the best out of us, we could never achieve what we do and the whole music department will miss him dearly as he embarks on his new journey away from Ripon.

Not only does he keep the music department running with all the ensembles and choirs, but his complete passion has captured the whole school - whether it be the success of the inaugural House singing competition or simply our weekly dosage of music in assembly.

Mr Seymour concluded: “When I put down hard music, students follow it through with determination and are eager for the next challenge. This is what has made working here so special and will make the last five years so memorable.

“I count myself incredibly lucky to have worked with such talented musicians (students and staff) and I am very proud of all that we have achieved together."

A memorable five years at Ripon Grammar School: Mr Seymour in front of the school's music department block