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Cookstown High School, Cookstown

Spring Concert 2016

10th May 2016

For musicians everywhere, the months April- May create a tense feeling of uncontrollable anxiety. The arrival of the spring lamb, alongside the awaited blossom of the first signs of life gives a clear warning to all musicians everywhere that it is time: time to overcome, time to flourish and time to perform. For musicians, the climax of a year’s worth of preparation, dedication and hard work is showcased in the vibrant, colourful form of a Spring Concert.

This year, Cookstown High School’s annual Spring Concert was again an enjoyable culmination of musical preparation across a variety of genres and styles. From the fine handiwork of Mozart’s piano sonatas, to traditional Pipes and Drums, to a stop in the coarse, dissonant jazz scene to the delightful, fictitious Disney realm - Cookstown High school showcased a great evening of music, for all interests.

Many young performers took to the stage for the first time, showing their determination, skill and sheer nerve! Junior school soloists Katie Hammond and Alice Bowden fully stood up to the challenge and delivered a heart-warming interpretation of well-known Musical Theatre songs.

Ava Cleary-McGuffin and Lydia Mitchell respectively exploited the resonant sounds of the flute and piano, capturing the attention of their audience and both giving a confident performance. Joshua Dripps raced us quickly through time to the familiar ‘Rock and Roll’ era and showcased his skills on the Drum kit- performing a well-known Rolling Stones’ cover, My Generation.

The Junior Choir and Concert Band were led by Mr McKeown. The Junior Choir comprises Year 8-9 girls who sang ‘When I grow up’ from the newly adapted musical ‘Matilda’ - their sweet sounding voices were a treat to the audience. The school band opened the concert with the well-known film theme ‘Apollo 13’, and later performed ‘Go, Go, Go Joseph’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Joseph’. Through Mr McKeown’s hard work, the band had two commendable performances and each of the band members would like to thank him for his relentless enthusiasm!

This year, the concert had a retro, jazz theme (no matter how hard Mrs Gormley tries to deny it!) and each of the senior school choirs were accompanied by a house band, as were many of the soloists. The band filled the school hall with a cool vibe and provided an enjoyable, jovial spirit! The Senior Girls’ Choir sang ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘One fine day’ - truly showing the strong dynamism that accompanies jazz music. The Chamber Choir performed ‘Here comes the Sun’ and ‘One Day’ by Kodaline. These pieces were in stark contrast and demonstrated the versatility of the pupils involved.

Many senior school pupils performed solos, again from a variety of genres and were able to facilitate the interests of each member of the audience. Ian Brown performed a stunning jazz trumpet interpretation of ‘The girl from Ipanema’, accompanied by the house band. This thrilling performance showed the high levels of talent that Cookstown High School’s Music Department has to offer. The concert concluded with a performance of ‘The Prayer’ by two members of the GCSE Music class, Zoe Seymour and James Marks. This piece is highly emotive and proved very challenging to communicate and perform due to the language barrier (it is mostly in Italian) and extremely difficult vocal range. Nonetheless, a convincing performance was delivered and an emotional response from the audience was welcomed.

Being an active member of the music department in Cookstown High School, I can relate the handwork and dedication that is required to make the Spring Concert (or any concert) possible. I think it is fair to say that it did not come together in the space of a few rehearsals (no matter what anyone says!) and that an extreme work ethic from both teachers and pupils was required. I feel compelled to pay tribute to Mrs Gormley who tirelessly and effortlessly motivated, encouraged and taught her pupils to perform to their best- and let whatever happens, happen. What is often not communicated enough is that in Cookstown High School’s Music department, we are encouraged to each strive for our potential, perform to the best of our ability- but most importantly to have fun and develop a sense of character. Our school motto is ‘Character through knowledge’, but in the Music Department, we often find ourselves developing ‘Character though Music’.

The concert was a successful evening and I wish to extend to everyone involved in the concert my congratulations, and thank Mr McKeown and Mrs Gormley for their dedication to their pupils.