Bolton School started its 100th and 500th birthday celebrations with a whole-school gala concert at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, in order to showcase the participation and musical talent in the school to a capacity audience of parents, staff, former pupils, governors and friends.
Andrea Price, head of music in the girls’ division, opened the evening conducting the choirs of the infant, junior and senior schools as well as the joint chamber choir and the newly formed Friends of Bolton School Community Choir. They offered a version of ‘Let Your Light Shine’ supported by the senior concert band. The evening continued with Fiona Berry directing the concert band in renditions of Phil Collins’s ‘Two Worlds’ and ‘Bugler’s Holiday’, which featured Paul Greenhalgh, Ian Winstanley and Isobel Faulkner.
Percussion was showcased through ‘A Bridgewater Bash!’ Ian Forgrieve wrote the piece specifically for the event and conducted the joint tuned percussion ensemble in their rendition of it. Jeremy Bleasdale, head of music in the boys’ division, directed the senior guitar group in their versions of ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and ‘Bamboleo’.
A group of year-two pupils from the infant school, directed by Andrea Price, offered an interpretation of ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and received a huge round of applause from the 2,000 people in the audience. They were followed by the joint chamber choir, with Jonathan Ainscough and Catherine Whitmore directing them through, respectively, ‘Run to You’ and ‘The Battle of Jericho’. The first half ended with the massed voices of more than 250 year-seven pupils, directed by Alison Hampson, who sang ‘Let Me Go’, ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘You Got It’.
The senior drum corps, led by Ian Forgrieve, opened the second half of the evening with the specially written ‘Bridgewater Salute’ before the junior boys’ and junior girls’ school choirs performed John Rutter’s ‘Look at the World’ directed by Stephanie Ives.
Fiona Berry then directed the jazz band through a Glen Miller medley, which included ballroom dancing sequences from pupils. The senior orchestra, conducted by Clare Deady, offered a rendition of Stravinsky’s Berceuse and Finale from ‘Firebird’.
The senior orchestra, led by Andrea Price, were joined by the voices of the two senior school choirs, the joint chamber choir and the friends of the school choir in singing a ‘Hymn to the Fallen’, a precursor to the World War I medley final. The final piece was introduced by the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi pipe band, featuring several boys’ division pupils and playing the ‘Skye Boat Song’. The audience, junior school choirs and massed year seven voices joined the senior choirs, chamber choir, friends’ choir and the massed orchestra to offer a musical tribute commemorating the role which the school played and the 81 old boys who lost their lives in the Great War.
There was a retiring collection for Help the Heroes.
The concert was the first of several Bolton School events that will run over the next two years to celebrate the centenary of the current foundation and 500 years of education in Bolton.