In classical mythology the phoenix is incinerated only to rise again, renewed, from the ashes. On Friday 24th June the students from St Mary’s Cathedral College demonstrated this unquenchable life force and vitality when they staged the College’s annual concert—organised around the theme and the title of Myths and Legends—at the Sydney Town Hall.
The College’s large music ensembles—the Orchestra, the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Bands, and the Stage Band—all provided evidence of the strength of the College’s musical tuition program and the utility of the many morning practice sessions over the course of the year. The highly polished performances of the Scholars and the Choristers from the Cathedral Choir highlighted the value of having students who are part of a professionally-run singing ensemble. The Primary students, all of whom are either choristers or music scholars, were involved in an epic presentation of the Grail legend, incorporating acting, dancing, musical accompaniment, and singing, including the participation of the whole school in ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. In addition, performances from various music classes demonstrated the diversity and quality of skills among the College’s musicians.
In addition to these larger groups there were a number of highly impressive individual and small-group performances. These included the percussion ensemble Drumline, who performed a medley of famous rock drum riffs; ‘Agony’ from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, featuring Year 12 students Patrick Finch and Anthony King with string accompaniment; an alto saxophone duet between Alex Durrant-Whyte and Dimitri Kandilas; ‘Impossible Year’ sung by baritone Marlon Lowrencev; Michael Barclay as Sir Camelot; a swinging rendition of ‘It Had Better be Tonight’ by Chris Keryakos; and a powerful rendition of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Damian Lawrence on the Town Hall organ, one of the world’s largest. The Hip Hop item has become a College institution, and the 2016 edition did not disappoint, with students from across the year groups participating in a dance choreographed by Kieran O’Grady from Year 12.
The night concluded with the traditional and famous Massed Choir item. Beginning with Luke Byrne’s ‘Phoenix’, which built to a dramatic climax after a fascinating instrumental section, with the College’s Orchestra being augmented by the addition of extra strings courtesy of students from Santa Sabina, the students moved into Hubert Parry’s famous adaptation of the words of William Blake, ‘Jerusalem’. The memory of these two pieces as performed by this massive ensemble will stay with everyone lucky enough to have heard them.
Hundreds of hours of preparation are required to stage such an event. Particular thanks must go to the Musical Director, Ms Mirella Di Giorgio, and her colleagues in the Music Department, Ms Miranda McHattan and Ms Liliane Cooley; to Mr Michael Wyborn and Mr Thomas Wilson; and to the various peripatetic music and other teachers, all of whom were intimately involved in the development of individual items.