During the school year there are many musical activities and events. Some are high profile, others more informal. As many as thirty informal instrumental concerts alternate with more structured instrumental and orchestral concerts. The Autumn and May concerts are regular annual events and we often perform in excellent venues around Milan including the “All Saints” Anglican church in Via Solferino and the auditorium in Sant’Ignazio near to school. Other regular events include a Chamber Music Festival – mainly for younger students working in ensembles – an annual Eisteddford competition, productions of musicals (Jesus Christ Superstar and Bugsy Malone are the most recent) and performances for charities and venues around Milan.
Each year, in addition to numerous instrumental concerts mentioned above, the school produces two large scale events. The first of these is the Carol Service, a long-standing tradition in the British Community in Milan and always held in the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Brera. The second major event usually falls either just before or after Easter and is a purely musical event. Over the years this has taken on different themes ranging from “A Night at the Opera”, an “International Performing Arts Festival” and “The History of the Musical”. Alongside these slightly lighter vein there have been several major choral works performed and recorded. The earliest such venture was Haydn’s Nelson Mass, recorded on vinyl in 1986 under the direction of the then Director of Music, Gregory Wright. More recently the school has expanded in numbers and the choirs have grown. In April 2001 the Mozart Requiem was performed and recorded in DVD and CD for the first time with the school at Santa Maria Del Carmine with a choir of about 150 singers.
In April 2011, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of this event, the Mozart Requiem was selected again for performance. It is the belief of the Director of Music that as one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, every generation of students should have the chance to experience it. The thrill and enthusiasm the students and staff experienced in the preparation for the concert is evidence enough of this. The performance was the result of over three months’ solid work. The massed choirs included the Lower School singers, the Junior Choir and the Parents’ Choir. Within the Orchestra were some of the schools’ up and coming young players, who, playing alongside professionals, gained valuable experience and practical knowledge.
In Spring 2012, the Music Department’s major choral event was Joseph Haydn’s Harmoniemesse (Wind Band Mass). The concert involved the combined choirs and orchestra of the SJHS, together with four professional soloists. An audio recording was made and a CD will be produced with the best performances from the two evenings.
Earlier in the year, the SJHS hosted students and teachers from Wells Cathedral School, organizing workshops, master classes and performances at school. The highlight of the visit was a concert given by the students from Wells and the Sir James in the theatre of Palazzo Serbelloni. The level of performance was exceptional and we should be very proud of the four pianists and the violin ensemble that represented the Sir James, especially as the oldest pupil was 12!
Below is a video clip of Luca Grianti (SJHS Y5) playing Bach
To download a copy of the pdf versions of the programmes for the school's most recent concerts, click on the images of the covers.
Other large scale works include the Fauré Requiem (2004 with CD recording), Handel’s Messiah(2006 with CD) and other works by Mendelssohn and lesser known composers. In 2007, following a major charity concert at the “Auditorium di Milano” for the “The Village of Hope”, a CD was released with Christmas favourites and other recordings of the SJHS choirs.
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