The New Entrants concert must present any director of music with a particular set of difficulties. Overwhelmed by the impressions and strange routines of a new school, in the throes of an induction programme partly designed to allow minimal time and energy for retrospective nostalgia, and perhaps above all, musically rusty after the depredations of the summer holidays, instruments often put aside for weeks, if not months have to be found, dusted off, oiled, polished and practised for a very high profile event.
For the young musician, on top of all these challenges lies the challenge of performing alongside unfamiliar peers, unfamiliar members of staff, the Headmaster and serried ranks of expectant parents, in a space rather larger and grander than many have been used to performing in until now.
For those putting together the programme, the sheer logistics involved in getting the boys and girls to rehearsals, squeezed in here and there in the rare gaps that can be created in their induction programme, demands a cool head and little short of organisational genius. And then of course there is the difficulty inherent in including in the same concert the almost-professional-standard pianist or singer with the Grade 2 clarinettist, without risking either the humiliation of the latter or the over-promotion of the former.
All these difficulties seemed to be effortlessly overcome in the 2013 New Entrants concert which took place last Saturday evening in the Alington Hall. Twenty-five fluent performances delighted the audience, and often very visibly the performers themselves, the music ranging across the usual broad spectrum which characterises music at Shrewsbury School. Performances by Lower Sixth entrants framed those by the 13-year-olds, and the slick continuity meant that all was over in little over 90 minutes. It is invidious in such an event to single out individual performances, and a few of those of the more advanced seniors must inevitably stand out as the more polished and mature performances. Suffice it then to say that the wonderful evening was brought to a close by Henrike Legner, who performed on the piano with immense pace and steely strength of purpose the final movement of Bach’s very difficult Italian Concerto and then after a brief rest rounded off the concert with Vivaldi’s scintillating Aria Nulla in Mondo Pax Sincera, repeated the next day in Chapel at the Third Form Service.
And the moral of the tale? Devotees of Shrewsbury School Music have a great deal to look forward to.