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George Eliot's Poems...
VOL. XIX.-No. 302.
To say that our thirty-sixth annual concert was as successful as any of the previous ones is not too high praise. Mr. Bambridge had made the most of a choir originally not too promising, and Mr. Leaf, with the accumulated experience of former choirmasters and his own ingenuity, had with the aid of his active stewards seated the audience as well as our limited space will allow.
The concert was begun punctually at 7:30 by an overture for strings and piano from Mozart's Don Giovanni. It would be impertinent for an amateur to criticize professional performers of the class that had been procured to assist in the concert, but we may say a word in commendation of the skill and attention with which they played throughout the evening. It was a pity that so brilliant a performance was placed so early, as the audience had scarcely settled themselves, and the hum of voices, particularly from the seats on the east of the room, was very perceptible. The “Welcome” which is heard every year might most appropriately open another concert. It was the least satisfactory performance of the choir, the change of time in the last two verses being
missed, but they made amends in the next piece, which was charmingly sung. Its beauty consisted in the change from gay to grave in the third verse, where time and key combine to adapt themselves to the lament over “the happy days of early life.” The words, “Hush our song,” were rendered with great softness. The refrain,"tra-la-la," where the former key and time were resumed, formed a conclusion to the piece, being sung very low at first and then rising into a note of joy which effaced the gloom of the preceding lines. Webber's pianoforte solo came next, performed with the delicacy of touch which we identify with him. Had there been a little more forte playing in it, it would have been better heard. He was succeeded by the professionals in one of Beethoven's string quartettes, which was however not received by the school with the marked approval which it merited. The Rev. F. G. Hume, however, was heartily welcomed. Though not in his best voice, he sang a very touching song, 'In the Cloisters,' with excellent feeling, and gave as encore to an entranced audience, Tom Bowling,' which gained not a little of its beauty from the sympathetic accompaniment of Mr. Bambridge. The choir achieved a great success in the performance of
Allan-a-dale' which was next in the programme. It is perhaps only a coincidence that this piece and the
Border Raid' were both marked by similar sentiments—the defiance of, and victory over authority, and both thrown into a dramatic form. At all events they were both eminently suited to the powers and humour of the choir and were most successfully rendered. The voices in Allan-a-Dale got into full swing at once. The difficulty of the change of time where the tenor lead began in the fourth verse was surmounted with tolerable steadiness. The most effective verse was the last. The two first lines tell of the failure of Allan's suit to the father and mother, and end in a discord where " they lifted the latch and bade him begone." Then came the accompaniment, vividly descriptive of disaster as it runs from the top to the bottom of the scale, and the piece ends in a tone of almost extravagant triumph as it repeats how “she fled to the forest to hear a love tale, and the youth it was told by was Allan-a-dale." Nothing more significantly shows how much of the results got from the choir are due to Mr. Bambridge than the chorus of O.M's which, containing as it did very good material, was yet put at a great disadvantage by following so close upon so fine a performance. Mr. Bambridge made the most heroic efforts to keep them together, but owing to the fact that the music had been seen by the majority for the first time only the Saturday before, this was sometimes an impossibility. It is not often, however, that we have the chance of hearing a chorus of men's voices exclusively, and the crisp singing of such lines as “over the move . ment of the whole," and the vigorous enunciation of the strophe beginning, "Above all the rest," in their second piece, gave us reason to wish we could hear more of them. The first portion of the concert was brought to an end by a performance of our Brass Band, which has had the advantage of a fixed home this term, inconveniently near, however, we are told to the Adderley and the A House class-rooms. Mr. Swain was certainly to be complimented on the good tune and accuracy with which all the instruments were played. The quality and body of sound were very good.
The second part was opened by a performance of the overture to 'Ruy Blas' on strings, with Mr. Bambridge at the pianoforte. It was one of the most delightful items in the programme of the
evening, and school and visitors were of one mind in loudly encoring it. "The Rustic Coquette,' a part-song which followed, was commenced very cleanly by the choir, and the refrain was sung with delicacy and considerable expression, but the piece was not enthusiastically received. The violin duet of Webber and Tiarks received quite an ovation from the school, who seemed not unnaturally proud of the performers. Tiarks as first violin was very dexterous in the higher shifts, and Webber's experience in concerted music kept the pair well together in the quicker passages. J. M. Harvey, whose voice was hardly at its best, sang with much expression in " Anchored." The effect of storm and calm in it was very good,—the horror indicated by the rendering of "a dreary wreck lay she ” throwing into prominence the admirable smoothness of the restful refrain in the last verse. The next piece in the programme, a ' Song to Pan,' was characterised by a gaiety and vivacity which suited the subject. The trebles, whose part was the most prominent, sang exceedingly well, and in the chorus all parts were well together. The pianoforte duet between Mr. Bambridge and Webber was a success wbich even satisfied the expectation which the announcement of their names aroused, and in answer to a recall Mr. Bambridge gave us his well known tour de force, "Auld Lang Syne.” Mr. Tilleard sang “The Sands of Dee" in a perfect manner. The repetition pianissimo of the last line of the second verse, "and never home came she," prepared for the catastrophe which was admirably worked up to by the crescendo in the next verse, and the lament in the last one ending on a soft low note was very touching. The song which an encore extracted we did not like so much, an impassioned love song of a very different type, though in its way an equally good performance. The second piece which the Brass Band played was not 80 good as their first, though a familar one to them and to us: the second cornets seemed at times to be a little out of tune. The piece, however, has a good swing about it and the result seemed appreciated. The choir reached its highest point in the performance of the “ Border Raid.” Mr. Leslie we believe used to say that for part-singing sixty hours was not too much to spend on one piece. We cannot afford to devote so much time to the preparation for our Concert, but no inconsiderable part of their leisure