Portsmouth High School celebrated 138 years this month with a Gala Concert at the Cathedral of St Thomas, Old Portsmouth.
The concert featured a world premiere of The Willow Tree, a newly commissioned work written for the school by Bruno Newman, set to the words of Minstrel’s Roundelay from Ella by Thomas Chatterton. The piece was conceived as a modern expression of a folksong and was warmly appreciated by the cathedral audience of over 300 guests.
The composer, Bruno Newman, is an Associate Lecturer and Tutor in Composition at the University of Chichester.
‘I was delighted with the performance of the The Willow Tree,’ he said. ‘The girls and staff really came together to bring this piece to life and infused both passion and emotion in its delivery; it truly was superb. As composers, we rarely hear our work performed with such large forces and it was an absolute pleasure to be present at the premiere, especially in such magnificent surroundings.’
An audience of over three hundred, including The High Sheriff of Hampshire, Sarah Le May, The Mayor of Fareham, Councillor Mrs Pamela Bryant, The Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Kathleen Jones and The Mayor of Havant, Councillor Diana Patrick, filled Portsmouth Cathedral.
‘The evening was so polished and professional and on a par with a major concert,’ said The Mayor of Gosport Councillor Kathleen Jones. ‘I loved the Ukuladies and the soloists were superb.’
Portsmouth High School’s Chair of Governors, Mrs Krysia Butwilowska, added:
‘It was a tremendous evening of passion and enjoyment. It was a delight to have new music, particularly a piece specially composed for Portsmouth High School which was masterfully performed.’
A combined group of over 200 musicians sang and played through the evening which included works ranging from The Greatest Showman to compositions from Vivaldi and von Weber.
Soloists included: Jia Feng, violin, 17 and Olivia Kelsall, clarinet, 18.
‘I thought that the concert was a fantastic showcase for the talents of the girls and showed an enormous amount of commitment from both the pupils and all the music staff who supported them,’ said The High Sheriff of Hampshire, Sarah Le May.
‘The audience were treated to a complete array of styles of music from the wonderful massed choirs and orchestra for the world premiere of The Willow Tree to the immense talents of the soloists. Not only were the girls’ technical skills extremely impressive but it was lovely to see how they all seemed to be enjoying what they were doing too; not easy in such an awe-inspiring setting as the Cathedral. The evening was very professional in all respects.’