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Report: Annual Winter Concert Series

The highly anticipated Winter Concert Series, a tradition at Auckland Grammar School, provides the Music department with an opportunity to share the results of a year of hard work. It is an occasion that allows the School’s diverse and talented musical groups to delight parents, students and members of the wider Grammar community across two evenings.

Winter Concert I, held on Tuesday 25 July opened with the award-winning Jazz Combo, capturing the audience’s attention with an exhilarating performance of Black Classical Music by Yussef Dayes. The group’s deep admiration for Dayes’ music shone through, particularly evident in Form 7 student R. R. Ediriweera Wijesuriya’s masterful display on the drums. As they moved seamlessly through their set, enthralling the audience with Spanish Joint, Footprints, and Clair De Lune, the Jazz Combo showcased a perfect balance of light, shade and creative solos.

Following the Jazz Combo was the Big Band, treating the audience to a captivating set of tunes, including Well You Needn’t, The Golden Hour, Cry Me A River, Dean Town and Squib Cakes. Their music traversed genres, effortlessly blending jazz, funk, soul, and even elements of pop.

The second half of the concert commenced with chamber string group Grammar Virtuosi. They graced the audience with three works – Concerto for Two Violins, The Kingston Flyer and Serenade for Strings. A highlight of the evening was the presence of esteemed composer, D. Hamilton, who was able to hear his composition The Kingston Flyer performed live. He would soon be treated again as Grammarphonics performed Haere Mai Ra. The choir have earned a spot in the national finale of the Big Sing Competition for the second consecutive year, showcased their versatility and exceptional standard with additional pieces Die Nacht and Good Ol’ A Cappella.

Celebrating a growing participation of our chamber groups in the local NZCT Chamber Music Competition, the Guitar Trio mesmerised the audience with a captivating rendition of Trio Sonata, showcasing their impeccable musicianship and harmonious ensemble.

The grand finale for Winter Concert I belonged to Grammar Voices, directed by T. Wayne-Wright. Having also earned progression through the regional phase of the Big Sing competition, they are now eagerly heading to Cadenza in Rotorua. The choir’s performance of The Wellerman, Ave Maria and Elijah Rock left the audience in awe, concluding the concert with enthusiastic applause.

Two days later, the second instalment of the Winter Concert series featured the Pipe Band, Concertante String group, the Premier Concert Band, percussion and vocal chamber groups, and the Symphony Orchestra.

The Pipe Band proved themselves as true champions, having claimed victory in the Under 19 category at the Auckland Centre Competition. Their setlist, which included Queen’s iconic We Will Rock You, a trio of delightful Gaelic Dancers, and some impressive Mace flourishing, brought energy and excitement to the stage.

Emerging string group Concertante made their public debut with fantastic renditions of Gabriel’s Oboe and the timeless When You Wish Upon A Star. Under the skilful guidance of B. Lin, their progress has been commendable, and their onstage presence displayed newfound confidence and poise. Similarly, the Wind Band treated the audience to the iconic theme from Game of Thrones and the ethereal melodies of Into the Clouds.

The first half of the concert culminated in a performance by the Premier Concert Band. Their diverse repertoire showcased a fusion of styles, skilfully incorporating solos and challenging time signatures. The absorbing Sevens ingeniously played with the concept of the number seven, weaving patterns, scales, and time signatures seamlessly. Strange Humours brought forth the captivating Djembe skills of R. R. Ediriweera Wijesuriya, infusing the piece with an irresistible allure. The profound Khan evoked themes of war, power, and moments of delicate subtlety.

The second half commenced with two chamber performances. Our percussion quartet garnered well-deserved praise at the recent chamber music competition, their unison and finesse shining brightly in Gareth Farr’s From The Depths Sounds The Great Sea Gongs. A student-led vocal sextet moved hearts with their emotive rendition of David Hamilton’s masterpiece, May You See God’s Lights, displaying commendable leadership and a profound passion for music.

The grand finale belonged to the Symphony Orchestra, whose diverse set spanned across time and cultures. Mozart’s renowned Marriage of Figaro delighted the audience with its dynamic range and expressive melodies. A shift to the enchanting melodies of La Boda de Luis Alonso brought forth a celebration of love and joy, while the exhilarating Arabian Dance allowed the Orchestra’s percussion section to shine in all its splendour.

The Music Department extends its thanks to the itinerant staff, directors, and staff whose expertise, time, and boundless energy brought this musical showcase to life. The commitment of every group exemplifies the thriving culture within the department and the high standards upheld by each ensemble.

The rapturous applause and appreciation of two full audiences across both Winter Concert nights made every weekly rehearsal and practise worthwhile and rewarding. It was a testament to the power of music to unite and inspire.