The Xaverian College Christmas Concert was held at the Royal Northern College of Manchester, and was performed in front of a sold-out audience, this also included the top tier balcony which is a remarkable feat for any concert at the RNCM. The Honourable Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Bishop of Salford Diocese were guests of honour. The concert consisted of 130 Xaverian students, music staff, peripatetic staff, prospective Xaverian students and some of the college’s finest former pupils.
The evening began with the wonderful Concert Choir, directed and conducted by Ged Marciniak, they set the festive tone for the evening by performing a selection of movements from A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. The Concert Choir was accompanied by the wonderful harpist Elinor Nicholson and was also conducted by one of the college’s finest lower 6 students, Alfie Bousfield.
Following this the Flute Group, directed by Jennifer Dyson, performed a selection of movements from The Nutcracker by P. I Tchaikovsky. Neil Bowden then conducted the college’s brilliant Brass Band in a performance of Born Free by John Barry and Wrath by Peter Graham.
The concert continued with the Clarinet Group performing some folk inspired music composed and arranged by Coen Wolfgram, they performed his klezmer Suite. The Clarinet Group were directed by Katherine Blumer.
The incredible Xaverian Big Band, directed by Neil Bowden, then performed Conga by Gloria Estefan/Enrique and Smooth Operator by Sade Adu/Ray St. John. Following the Big Band, Kyran Matthews directed the Jazz Group in a performance of Spain by Chick Corea.
The first half concluded in the Christmas spirit with the college’s String Orchestra performing Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. The String Orchestra were conducted and directed by Duncan Reid with Pascal Darley and Megan Hindle on solo violin with Andrew Rogers on solo cello.
The second half opened with the vibrant and flamboyant Percussion Group directed by Joe Luckin. They performed with their usual energetic manner, starting with Clapping Music by Steve Reich followed by Alarm by Brian Blume.
Thomas Hopkinson and Rachel Abbott then directed the Chamber Choir, they set a reflective, spiritual and seasonal mood. The Chamber Choir have enjoyed a number of exciting performance opportunities in 2019, including premiering the first piece of their programme at Manchester Cathedral in November. They sang The Parting Shot by Nicola Lefanu, Adam Lay Ybounden by Boris Ord and Nativity Carol by John Rutter.
Before the Orchestra took to the stage the internationally acclaimed and award-winning A4 Brass Quartet performed some well-known Christmas songs. A4 Brass are Xaverian’s professional ensemble in residence. The quartet comprises of principal players from some of the UK’s top brass bands, including Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery, Brighouse & Rastrick and Foden’s. With “technical virtuosity in abundance” these four astonishing musicians perform both lyrical and high-octane works, forming a distinctive and new take on chamber music. They dazzled the audience with Carol of The Bells arranged by Jonathan Bates, Locus Iste by Anton Bruckner arranged by Chris Robertson and Now Bring Us Some Fuguey Pudding arranged by Jonathan Bates.
The Xaverian Orchestra made up of 120 musicians concluded the concert, they are by far the largest 6th form college ensemble in the UK. Andrew Levendis conducted the ensemble with an ambitious programme of Persian March by Johann Strauss, Game of Thrones arranged Jay Bocook, Music from The Incredibles by Michael Giacchino, the ”1812” Overture by P. I Tchaikovsky and A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson.
To end the evening, the Xaverian Orchestra performed Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride as an encore.
The audience gave 3 standing ovations during the Orchestra’s powerful performance.
On show were the highly acclaimed Xaverian ensembles; performances can be seen and heard via the Xaverian Music Department YouTube Channel.