At the beginning of October, the School presented Lior Navok’s musical re-imagining of the well-known tale Pinocchio. The concert was a culmination of musical collaboration between the London Myriad Ensemble (LME), an international prize-winning wind group, and the Lower First boys of Whitgift.
The morning workshop began with instrumental introductions and was followed by group sessions during which the boys learned how to use percussion instruments to create incidental music for the evening performance.
The concert opened with a mood-setting performance of Pinocchio from the Cantate, Bambini (by Virginia Campolieti) and moved swiftly into the story of Pinocchio. The vocal tones of graduate music assistant, Liam Connery, narrated the story as the students took turns creating the sounds of footsteps, twinkling stars, splashing water and dancing, along with more complicated imaginings such as sadness, longing, anger and many other mood settings.
Each group of students was led by one of the players from LME. It was fascinating to see the different approaches by both the students and the professionals. One group offered a largely allegoric performance of their section of text, using many extended techniques to create their sounds and sound effects, while others opted for a more reflective, sonorous experience; quite a difficult task using only djembes, glockenspiels and other auxiliary percussion. For some pupils it was their first time on stage, and it was clear from the many beaming smiles that they were experiencing the jubilation that comes from ensemble music-making.
After Pinocchio became a real boy, and the percussion instruments were put to one side, the London Myriad Ensemble took centre stage to give the audience a demonstration of professional ensemble playing and nuanced technique. They began with the first movement of Francis Poulenc’s Sextuor for wind quintet and piano by Yuki Negishi. Following on from this, composer Paul Patterson introduced his setting of Roald Dahl’s Red Riding Hood for wind quintet and piano.
It was a real treat for the Lower First boys and their parents to hear music of this quality from the LME; made up of Julie Groves (flute), Fiona Joyce Myall (oboe and Head of Woodwind at Whitgift School), Nadia Wilson (clarinet), Lisa Ridgway (horn) and Ashley Myall (bassoon). Thank you to everyone who joined us at the concert and hope you all enjoyed the evening.