Last Sunday evening, a packed Pears School was transported effortlessly to the colourful world of 19th century Paris, the world of the emerging impressionism of Fauré, Villette, and the king of the Bohemians, Berlioz. Before crossing the border into la belle France, we began with a Viennese palate cleanser: the School Orchestra, led by Joanna Holroyd (U6F), gave us the first movement of Schubert’s 7th (‘Unfinished’) Symphony, which epitomises music in transition between the rigid Classical style and the liberal, emotive language of the European Romantics. The Chamber Choir, conducted by Mr Hodgkinson, then sang two celebrated motets, both rich in the tonal colour of the French style – Duruflé’s ‘Ubi caritas’, based on the ancient plainsong melody, and Villette’s ‘Hymne à la Vierge’. MusSoc concluded the first half with a fine performance of Berlioz’s rather sentimental ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’, with Joseph Jankinson (L6L) and JER providing the pastoral calls on the oboes.
The second half was devoted to the music of Gabriel Fauré: his ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’, and the celebrated Requiem of 1890, in the edition by John Rutter, conducted by Mr Bowley. The massed ranks of Reptonians, Villagers and friends – about 150 in total – gave us a night to remember, with beautiful, sustained melodies rubbing shoulders with the fiery passion of judgement day. Particular mention must be made of the evening’s soloists: the renowned baritone Roderick Williams held us on the edge of our seats with his sensitive rendition; Olivia Thackray (4A) sang the Pie Jesu beautifully, accompanied by Katie Jankinson (4M) on the violin. It was a wonderful evening, with a great balance in terms of performers and repertoire, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by performers and audience alike.