On Saturday 4th November the annual House Music Competition was held in Menzies Hall. This was because of the Great Hall refurbishment, but it gave us an opportunity to present it in a different way with sympathetic lighting and staging. Also, the format was different this year, dividing the competition into three groupings of solo, ensemble and whole house items and there was no fixed theme.
First up was the ensemble. Leamington’s ‘Keep On Movin’’ had a strong band backing some entertaining if not always tuneful singers and they were followed by Duckworth giving a well-staged version of ‘Riptide’, showing good solo and harmony singing and attention to detail. School House went for entertainment in a big way with their version of ‘Stand by Me’, giving Isa Mohammed the spotlight as Gentle Giant in a well-staged if not always tuneful performance. St. Martin’s finished off the ensembles with some good, clear singing in their take on ‘Hallelujah’, masterminded by Summer Leigh. Along with Duckworth, the ukulele was to feature in this otherwise A Capella song.
Soloists came next, firstly with Rosie Baldwin for St. Martin’s, accompanying herself sing on the piano – no easy feat. This was a sensitive performance. Harvey Mashiter-Yates followed for Leamington with Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ played on the saxophone. Despite nerves, this was convincing. The Duckworth soloist was Imogen Davis singing a Kate Bush song, ‘This Woman’s Work’. This song suited her soulful style of singing and she gave a real emotive performance. Last of the soloists was James Hide for School House, playing drums to the Kinks track, ‘You Really Got Me’. Another nervous performer, he did well to keep it together and give a good performance.
The temperature rose as did the intensity and excitement when the Whole House songs were presented. The atmosphere at these events is always great, with the students being really supportive of each other, whatever house, and there was a real sense of fun and enjoyment.
Duckworth delivered a version of ‘Pompeii’, showing off the vocal talents of their house. They also had a strong band of guitar, piano, cello and drums to support them. School House were next with a strongly delivered take on Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’. The boys really went for it and impressed a number with their soloists, group singing and ability to divide up towards the end. St. Martin’s were tight in their version of ‘Ho, Hey’, showing good choral singing and accompanied well by drums, guitar and bass. The last house number was Leamington, giving us a highly entertaining rendition of Rupert Holmes’ holiday number ‘Escape’. There was a real feel-good factor about this song, with its secure backing again, but mostly it was really well presented, costumed and thought out to give the audience something appealing to relate to.
For some students this is a daunting experience, exposing themselves on the stage to the scrutiny of all, where confidence is key. However, many showed real conviction and presence, significantly those from whom one might least have expected it, so that they surprised themselves as well as others. There was much to enjoy and celebrate in all of the performances and they should all be proud of what they have achieved.
It has become customary before the announcement of the winner for some staff to present something as well, and this year, radiant in Pink dresses and lustrous wigs, the Headmaster, Mr Ellerington and Mr Prince, assisted by Messrs Young & Lockyer offered a cut down version of ‘Lily the Pink’, which seemed to please the masses.
It is always an unenviable task to adjudicate such an event and we were fortunate to have Mrs Lorna Braddy, an experienced professional musician and educator, along to give us her thoughts. She praised the bravery of the soloists, the entertainment value of some of the items and the singing of others, but the worthy winners on this occasion were Duckworth, who had strong performances across the board.
My thanks to all the House Parents for their tireless input, Katie Brewin for operating lights and especially Ms Myers and her husband Glen who did so much to enhance the event with their input on staging lights and sound, releasing me simply to do the music bit!