“What better way to follow on from Debussy than with Metallica!” With those words, Global Orchestra Musical Director and conductor Paul Wright, introducing the Rock Band, summed up the eclectic and occasionally surprising musical lineup at the first Nord Anglia Education Global Orchestra concert.
The gala event was held in the acoustically impressive DiMenna Center and from the moment the orchestra leader, violinist Monica Chrost, placed bow on string to tune the orchestra, the crowd was hushed in anticipation.
Primed and ready to perform after an intensive week of music workshops and individual tuition in New York, the students chosen for the Global Orchestra and choir gave their all in front of family and friends, representatives from The Juilliard School and staff from Nord Anglia Education.
Under Wright’s baton, the orchestra launched into the first of two movie themes, Michael Nyman’s Timelapse, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean, both pieces giving each section of the orchestra the chance to showcase their skills. Wright noted that his intention with the selection for the orchestra was to give the students the opportunity to feel comfortable with some of the works, whilst also challenging them with less familiar pieces.
The first of three solo piano performances followed. Joowon (Mary) Park from Regents International School Pattaya chose All of Me by contemporary American composer, Jon Schmidt; a fast paced and complex composition which allowed her to display her skill and dexterity at the keyboard. The original intention was to have just one solo pianist included in the Global Orchestra; however, Wright explained that the sheer number of high quality auditions made it impossible to choose only one, with three pianists ultimately selected to perform.
The Global Orchestra Choir performance was accompanied by both the solo pianists and orchestra throughout the evening. For its first song, Jazz Cantate, the choir was accompanied by the youngest of the solo pianists, 11-year-old Joung Jin Kim from The British International School Shanghai, Pudong. The 35-strong choir impressed with its beautiful harmonies and perfect timing, following up with an emotional and rousing rendition of Stephanie Mabey’s Glorious which also featured solos from a number of students including BIS Abu Dhabi's Isabella Engles, displaying the breadth and variety of voices chosen for the choir.
Next, a complete change of pace, with the Rock Band performing Metallica’s Fade to Black, followed by on opportunity for the brass section and Rock Band to have some fun with some New Orleans street music, Kid Jordan’s Second Line, featuring improvisation by both student and teacher players, including Wright on trombone.
The eclectic nature of the bill was evident when the next performer, solo pianist ManehSeiranian from The English International School of Prague once again held the audience enthralled with a passionate performance of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C sharp minor.
Noting the depth of musical ability in Nord Anglia Education’s 41 schools worldwide, Wright introduced the next piece, simply titled Overture, which was composed by Year 11 student, Simon Cohen from the British School of Chicago who was sitting proudly in the audience. Rehearsals during the afternoon provided Simon’s first chance to hear his haunting and complex composition played, and he was visibly moved to see an entire orchestra bring his work to life. Introducing him to the audience, Wright predicted, “This is a name you will hear again!”
The concert reached its crescendo with orchestra and choir combining for the final piece, Pavane by Gabriel Faure. The audience was on its feet and calling for an encore and, not wanting to disappoint such a receptive group, Wright mounted the podium and called the orchestra and choir together again for a final treat, the feel-good indie rock hit, American Authors’ Best Day of My Life saying, “This song truly sums up how we all feel about the experience of being here tonight as part of the Global Orchestra.”