BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT TWENTY-TWO boys and a girl gave three London concerts last week which confirmed the role of Stonyhurst College as a national leader in schools musical education.
Stonyhurst, the Jesuit public school in Lancashire, has been building its reputation for music for several years now. Every boy learns a musical instrument for a time, and for the many who keep it up, there are now four orchestras.
The Stonyhurst Chamber Orchestra, which includes the one girl pursuing 6th Form studies at the college, was founded three years ago by its conductor, Mr. Wilfred Usher, of the Stonyburst music staff. It has given a series of concerts in the North of England, won awards at music festivals, and last year played for 5,000 people in the Cathedral of St. John in Malta.
Some of the boys have won music scholarships to Stonyhurst, but for most their musical education was initiated by the college. The music staff also includes a gifted composer, John Mallord, one of whose works was featured in the London concerts.
DELEGATE PRESENT These were given in Farm Street Church, Wimbledon Town Hall (in the presence of the Apostolic Delegate), and at St. Ignatius' College, Enfield, in aid of Jesuit Mis
sions in Rhodesia and Guyana, and in memory of Fr. Peter Low, the young Jesuit drowned last year in a canoeing accident.
The programme included a wide variety of works from the Chamber repertoire which demand both technical skill and a high standard of musicianship. Such works as the Vivaldi Concerto for Four Violins in E Minor and the Bach Brandenburg No. 3 come into this category and were given high quality performances, together with works by Handel and Monteverdi.
The orchestra showed a
fine partnership, but two points call for special mention. The soloist in the Concerto for Oboe by Marcell° was 14-year-old Alastair Nichol, who combined technical skill with a remarkably mature artistic understanding.
Then there was John Mallord's 'Four Movements for Chamber Orchestra', specially written for the Stonyburst players and now being performed in public for the first time.
It is a work of great beauty and vivacity, and was deliberately written to stretch the boys' technique. It demands a high standard of ensemble playing, and the boys met the challenge.
John Mallord, 27, won two major prizes for composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music.