The aim of this fine charity is to create opportunities for musically gifted youngsters with special educational needs to perform with vocal and instrumental professionals.
There was certainly an eclectic mix from the evening’s many participants, ranging from nine year-olds to renowned soloists.
John Lubbock conducted the Orchestra of St John’s, opening with a Vivaldi Concerto Grosso which initially presented an undignified scramble and dull dynamics, but eventually settled to a more coherent performance.
Cutting-edge musicality highlighted an exquisite rendering of Stanford’s Three Latin Motets, impeccably accomplished by vocal ensemble Armonico Consort, who dared whisper perfect pianissimos with perfect balance.
Multi-talented young clarinettist Lloyd Coleman chose contrasting moods from Finzi’s Five Bagatelles. Seemingly effortless breath control for tender long phrases offset jolly rhythms achieved with committed imagination.
The undoubted star of the evening was percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, giving her all in a fizzy Vivaldi recorder concerto creatively transcribed for vibraphone.
Further gutsy explorations with new marimba compositions treated us to eerie effects in Leigh Howard Stevens’ Rhythmic Caprice. Deep resonances from bass notes not used solely for accompaniment contrasted very satisfactorily with brilliant treble lightning strikes.
Exciting repetitive Balkan energy in Zivkovic’s Ilia counterbalanced Glennie’s own childhood marimba composition of A Little Prayer, enhanced by lovely wordless shifting harmonies from the full choir.
Three soloists joined the full choirs and instrumentalists for Vivaldi’s hefty Gloria, the youngsters joining in with energetic Allelujahs and final Amens. Perhaps a more apt choice could be found for their musical adventures in future, however?
Unimaginative scheduling meant that small children (vulnerable at the best of times) were still on stage at 10.15pm. This was surely avoidable?