Ten Play Octet

31 May 2013

On Friday the grand surroundings of the Chapel at Prior Park College were once again the scene of a spectacular concert built around the majestic Requiem of Brahms, sung by the College’s Choral Society and a professional orchestra. Before the Brahms came the royal splendour of Handel’s Zadok the Priest; and before that, impressive appearances by the College’s own orchestra, Schola Cantorum and brand-new Sax Quartet.

Just before the interval came a special piece for any string player: the Octet, famously written by the gifted and precocious young Felix Mendelssohn in what would now be his GCSE years; and it was played here by students of about that age, some younger, some older, but all fully engaged with the energy, enthusiasm and optimism that still spring from that piece. In setting the Octet before them last autumn, Director of Music Roland Robertson saw an opportunity to exploit a particularly rich crop of string players – hence ten musicians playing a composition written for eight. The group rose to that considerable challenge with a panache that impressed the large audience.