After two years of coronavirus-enforced cancellations, this was the first time since 2019 that pupils from the college and its preparatory school were able to demonstrate their musical skills in the – usually annual – Festival of Music at Merseyside’s most prestigious concert venue.
More than 200 students took part in the event as part of a range of musical ensembles including St Mary’s award-winning symphony orchestra, symphonic wind band, show choir, chamber choir, lower school choir and preparatory school concert choir.
The compere for St Mary’s 22nd Festival of Music was popular former BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Phillips, and the ensembles were conducted by St Mary’s director of music Andrew Byers and his colleagues Colin Johnston and Joanne Booth.
The concert featured an eclectic and ambitious repertoire from around the globe which started with the symphony orchestra playing the overture from Die Fledermaus, and finished with the symphonic wind band performing the classic Parisian can-can, the finale from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.
In between there were numerous highlights including the lower school choir medley of songs from Les Miserables and the college show choir’s take on another West End classic, the haunting Memory from Cats.
The audience was also quick to show its appreciation for such varied offerings as the theme from Chariots of Fire (symphony orchestra), America from West Side Story (symphonic wind band), Botswanian folk song Jesu Ukukhanya (college chamber choir) and the theme from The NeverEnding Story (preparatory school concert choir).
Soloists included Evie Clark, who performed Gabriel’s Oboe, and trumpeters Joshua Wright, Michael Jones and Henry Shenton, who played starring roles in Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday.
Commenting on the concert Andrew Byers said: “Because of all the COVID-19 restrictions it’s been a very difficult couple of years for our young musicians, but I’m delighted to say their performances at the Phil this year maintained the very high standards set by their predecessors.
“This reflects both their talent and the hard work they have put into preparing for the concert over many months. They rightly received their standing ovation from the audience at the end of the evening.”
St Mary’s College principal, Mike Kennedy, said: “The standard of music at St Mary’s is always exceptional, and once again our students rose to the occasion and presented a wonderful evening’s entertainment at the Phil this year.”
With the Philharmonic event now over, St Mary’s pupils have already started rehearsals for the other major highlight of the college musical calendar, the summer Proms in the Park concert which also returns this year.
The 2022 music-and-fireworks extravaganza will take place at St Mary’s Blundell Park playing field in Crosby on Saturday 9 July.