Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

15th July – St. Paul’s Co-educational College and Primary School Britain Tour Gala Concert 2015

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Choir and Orchestra: St. Paul’s Co-educational College Primary School Concert Choir and Orchestra

String quartet: SPCC String Quartet

Conductors: Katherine Cheung, Jason Ho, Yvonne Lui, Alice Chung

Piano: Warren Lee

Venue: St. John’s Smith Square, London

On 15th July, I headed down to London to meet up with friends and take in some more of the culture London has to offer. First on the bill was a concert that I had been invited to by my friend, Warren Lee who is Music Director of St. Paul’s. Funnily enough, we had managed to meet in my hometown of Chester the week before, where the choir had been rehearsing in the town hall to prepare for the Eisteddfod competition in Llangollen.

St John’s Smith Square, London

This was the final concert of their British tour. Admittedly, my expectations were not that high – being a teacher has exposed me to primary school and middle school concerts. However, the orchestra assembled quickly on stage, as did the choir. Then there were two student MCs who introduced the concert  – this pattern was repeated throughout the concert to give time for changes on stage and brief introductions to the pieces. This was a good use of time, helped to represent the school and its students well and gave opportunity for a little humour.

As soon as the choir opened their mouths to sing, I was impressed. They sang with fervour, some of them were swaying to the music and their facial expressions showing eagerness. These were students who had obviously been taught to open their mouths to sing, and they did so with confidence, projecting their voices well. Some songs were sung in Chinese and some in English but all were sung with enthusiasm. Having now experienced their performance, it wasn’t surprising that this choir won their category in Llangollen.

Programme - Part 1

Programme – Part 1

Programme - Part 2

Programme – Part 2

The orchestra were equally as impressive. They sat quietly poised as they waited to begin. For a group of approximately 10-12 year olds, the sound produced was cohesive. The SPCC string quartet are secondary school students who I presume must have spent hours practising together to sound so good. As they played, I noted their eye contact as they remained connected through their pieces. They seemed to be great role models for the members of the orchestra.

The end of the concert finished on a high with Warren Lee performing Ode to the Yellow River with the orchestra and a world premiere by Hong Kong composer, Steve Ho with the choir and orchestra. It was great to see such young students perform with an instrumental soloist – I don’t know how many orchestras of students this young ever get this type of opportunity! As if this wasn’t enough, the audience was treated to another piece by Steve Ho called ‘Kung Fu Rhapsody’ performed by Warren Lee and the SPCC quartet. This was definitely a fun and energetic way to finish the concert.

SPCCPS Orchestra

SPCCPS Orchestra

Readers of this may think that I am being quite biased, which is true. However, I doubt that there is a high probability that I would walk away from many concerts performed mostly by primary school students that warrants me to think, “When can I see them perform again?”

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