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The Feast of the Ascension was well celebrated at St John’s this year. On the morning of Thursday 14 May, the School gathered for its annual Ascension Day Eucharist, recalling Jesus’ triumphant return to heaven. The choir sang especially well, tackling the evergreen "Coelos Ascendit Hodie" – a significant eight-part anthem by Charles Villiers Stanford.
The following evening, St John’s showcased the work of its various small ensembles in the first Ascensiontide concert. The centrepiece of the evening was Bach’s robust and ecstatic Ascension Oratorio BWV 11, composed for the feast day in 1735. Alongside an orchestra comprising pupils and professionals, the Schola Cantorum sang the work with true style and professionalism.
Pupils took the lead in solo work, and particular mention must go to Andrew Terrafranca (Upper Sixth, West House), who took the role of Evangelist and Alice Bloomfield (L6, Gloucester House), who sang the demanding soprano solo “Jesu, deine Gnadenblicke” with great accomplishment.
The Oratorio was preceded by a number of chamber ensembles. The string quartet played Mozart’s happily bubbling String Quartet no 17 in B flat major, K458, whilst the wind quintet played a sparkling arrangement of Mozart’s Adagio und Allegro in F minor, KV 594. Two pupil organists (Anna Semple, Upper Sixth, Gloucester House; Yvette Murphy, Lower Fifth, Haslewood House) played demanding pieces by Olivier Messiaen, from his L’Ascension. The Schola Cantorum sang a number of works from Tallis to Tavener, including a commission by the School’s composer-in-residence, Christopher Mortlock. The entire occasion was a remarkable success and shows the great strides being made in music at St John’s.
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