This was no ordinary concert, for it was a select few who were gathered in the Egyptian Ballroom of Mansion House (a gorgeously gilded space which is at once breathtakingly lavish and strangely intimate). Aldermen, Masters and even the occasional ‘celeb’ were brought together beneath the towering columns to celebrate and support Treloar’s College, an absolute gem of a place.
In the wilds of the Hampshire countryside the lives of young physically disabled children are being changed, for the better, on a daily basis as Treloar’s School and College supports, educates and nourishes these youngsters, preparing them for adult life. There are many success stories, as we discovered at the concert, with some students going on to university. One such former student Hannah Fielding read a self-penned poem about what the school and college has meant to her; it really was the perfect dedication, realising in words why we were all there and confirming how important it was that vital funds were raised to help the school and its students grow further still.
Having been invited by Debbie Wiseman to contribute the programme notes and presentation script for the concert (the latter to be read by Sir Terry Wogan, no less) I felt I was able to do my bit for the show and it’s inspiring cause. I was delighted to be able to attend as well and see it all come together, with the talented young musicians of the Junior Trinity Symphony Orchestra performing a varied programme under the baton of both Debbie Wiseman and their principal conductor Andrew Morley.
Having a youth orchestra perform was an inspired idea. We were there to celebrate the young people of Treloar’s, and to have a band of youngsters help us do that with music was just wonderful. They had their work cut out too as this was no easy programme. Sure there were a couple of classical standards (‘Air on a G String’ and ‘Salut D’Amore’) within the programme, but the majority of the running time would go to Debbie’s own music. ‘The Selfish Giant’ and ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’ formed the heart of the show, with actors George Layton and Cheri Lunghi performing Oscar Wilde’s captivating narratives. While excerpts from both pieces had been performed at other events, it was just stunning to hear the whole piece (story and music) live. The music is of course simply gorgeous, perfectly underscoring Wilde’s creations with heartrending beauty and visceral tenacity in places.
I was genuinely impressed with the orchestra who took on these effervescent compositions admirably, not to mention the likes of Britten’s ‘Playful Pizzicato’. That piece supported a brilliant performance of the poem ‘Jim’ from Robert Powell. Particular mention must go to the pianist – apparently just 14 – whose measured performance shone during ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, not to mention the bird’s song itself which was played just perfectly by the solo flautist.
With a rousing performance of Wiseman’s ‘Wild West’ from Wilde (accompanied by a bit of dodgy clapping from us) the show came to its conclusion and those of us not signed up for a posh dinner went into the night with a nightingale’s song in our hearts.
Suffice to say it was a great success and much needed funds were raised for the school and college’s new building programme which will see them moving to one site so that they can continue the inspiring work they do with these very special young people.
If you'd like to learn more about Treloar's School and College or indeed make a donation, then get yourself to http://www.treloar.org.uk/