It was another full house in Powell Hall on Sunday evening the audience assembled for this year’s evening of Jazz & Swing. The fact that the full allocation of tickets had sold out in just four days, is a mark of just how popular this event has become. Expectations were running high following several years of highly successful concert, but it is fair to say that these expectations were surpassed at the end of three hours of spellbinding performances from pupils and teachers.

Jeremy Cowen (Y13, H) has made some notable musical contributions to this evening over the years, but this year he took on the huge task of acting as Compere for the whole evening. He did a fantastic job of providing the audience with facts and humour, whilst allowing the audience to talk amongst themselves to set up a brilliant atmosphere in the hall.  

The Swing Band, perhaps unsurprisingly, always features prominently in the programme, and this year they really were on top form. Performing a selection of challenging pieces for big band, the ensemble played with a tightness and verve perhaps not seen before. They opened the concert with two contrasting items: for the first they were joined by soloist Will Player (SH, Y10) for an energetic rendition of Robbie Williams’ hit ‘Let me entertain you’. This was met with a rapturous response from an incredibly warm and supportive, that set the tone for the rest of the evening.

The programme featured many ensembles, some of which were formed especially for the event, but others which proved their versatility: The String Orchestra were excellent in their performance Ligon’s sumptuous ‘Bossa Verde’, whilst the Chapel Choir followed on from having sung an anthem in Chapel that morning, with two jazzy numbers that were very well received. Meanwhile the Soul Band, which formed less than a year ago, entertained the crowd with two catchy numbers.

There were many outstanding solo performances from veritable veterans of the stage and pupils new to the school this year, alike. Marianne Yacoub (CH, Y12) joined in September and has since proved on many occasions that she is an excellent pianist. On this occasion, as well as accompanying various ensembles, she joined forces with our Head of Strings (Miss Emily Baker) for a truly special rendition of Gershwin’s ‘It ain’t necessarily so’. Meanwhile the penultimate item of the evening featured Toby Randall-Paley (H, Y12) on the piano as he played Ellington’s ‘Night Train’ with a style and flair that brought the house down.

At the end of the evening, Mr Allinson thanked the almost endless list of people who had helped to make the evening the extraordinary success that it was. At the top of this list was Mrs Doherty, who created this event and pulls it together each year.  Mr Allinson was also keen to acknowledge the contributions of those pupils in the Swing Band who are in Year 13 and for whom this was their last such evening: Angus Smith (Trumpet), Angus Blair (Alto Sax), Ellie Armstrong (Trombone) in particular have been stalwarts of the band and will be much missed.

For their final item, they were joined by another leaver who has made some outstanding vocal contributions to these evenings for many years: Saskia Simpson was accompanied by the Swing Band for a medley of items from the musical, ‘Chicago’.

As the audience reluctantly left the hall, many remarked that this was the best Jazz & Swing evening that they had been to – a bold statement, but in this case completely true. Well done to all pupils and teachers who made the evening so successful that it will stay in the minds of many for years to come.


The full programme was as follows:

Swing Band

Let me entertain you (Solo: Will Player) Williams/Chambers

God Bless the Child (Trombone: Guy Hollins) Holiday

Ben Jones (Alto Saxophone)

Baker Street    Rafferty

Sakia Simpson, with Ellen Jardine, Olivia Ridsdale & Marianne Yacoub

I get high Stone arr. Noke

Chapel Choir

Embraceable You   Gershwin

Sax Quartet

Cool Tune    Lochs

Grace Shaw, with James Horan & Alex Procter

Feelin’Good    Newley/Bricusse

Girls Concert Choir

Body and Soul    Green

Soul Band

Jailhouse Rock    Presley

String Orchestra

Bossa Verde   Ligon

Woodwind Ensemble

42nd Street   Warren

Swing Band with Mollie Richmond

This Can’t be Love   Rodgers/Hart

Percussion Ensemble & Chamber Orchestra

Conga del Fuego   Dudamel

Male Voices

Something’s gotta give   Mercer

Female voices

New York, New York   Kander/Ebb

Chapel Choir

I wish you love   Trenet

Swing Band with Laylah Scott & Tom Willock

Somethin’ Stupid   Parks

Hannah Page

Wear me out   Skylar Grey arr. Noke

Marianne Yacoub (Piano) & Miss Emily Baker (Violin)

It ain’t necessarily so Gershwin

Swing Band

Skyliner Barnet

Soul Band

Ain’t Nobody Rufus & Chaka Khan

Toby Randall-Paley

Night Train Ellington

Swing Band with Saskia Simpson

Chicago Medley  Kander

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