Brighter Sounds 2024

On 26 & 27 March, Wandsworth Music presented two ‘Brighter Sounds’ concerts at Fairfield Halls. Across the two nights over 1,100 children performed to capacity audiences. The concerts featured 30 primary and secondary schools from Wandsworth, and three Wandsworth Music Academy ensembles. The diverse mix of ensembles and music on show was electric!

Concert 1 – 26 March

Chestnut Grove Academy Steel Pans kicked the first concert off in style, bringing an exhilarating energy. The first was an arrangement of ABBA’s Mamma Mia (there was a lot more Abba to come later!) and ‘Misbehave’ by the excellently named Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharp.

For the past term musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, led by the indefatigable Paul Griffiths, had been working with three special schools in Wandsworth; Oak Lodge, Garratt Park and Nightingale Academy. The culmination of the project was a performance of their original composition called ‘Music is…?!’ The piece that they created was absolutely amazing. It had so many different sections each with their own individual musical style. The performance included brilliant ensemble playing and some beautiful solos.

Burntwood Chamber choir, directed by Debbie Lammin, were next to take the stage. They performed ‘Three pieces from an English Day book’ by Elizabeth Poston. The choir were on great form. These were very demanding pieces with complicated harmonies which they sang beautifully and masterfully.

Wandsworth Concert Orchestra, conducted by Jim Alexander, brought the first half to a close in style. Their varied programme included Grieg’s  ‘March of the Dwarves’ and ‘Ancient Echoes of Time’. Juba dance by Florence Price was next which gave the percussion section a chance to shine and featured a small Djembe ensemble within the Orchestra. The last piece they played was ‘Appalachian Morning’. The Orchestra impressed the audience with their ability to play beautiful slow melodic lines. The piece shone the spotlight on the trumpet and clarinet sections, with lovely solos from both. It was a fitting way to finish the first half.

The second half was all about the Primary choirs, accompanied by the House Band. They hit the ground running with a stunning version of Naughty Boy’s “Wonder”. The mood was changed with a sensitive performance of Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’. Next it was time to get funky with Disco Lives. Howie’s ‘Hine e Hine’ highlighted the choirs pure singing voices and the dance moves were out for Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. The choirs brought the house down with the final number, an ABBA medley. This was ABBAsolutely fantastic performance! The audience singing and clapping along, and quite rightly gave the primary choirs a standing ovation! What a fantastic night!

Concert 227th March (sold out show!)

The sold out second concert started with a bang as Wandsworth Philharmonic Orchestra (WPO) played ‘Pines of the Appian Way’ featuring off stage brass from Graveney and St Cecilia’s. A special mention to Rosie for her spellbinding Cor Anglais solo. Next we heard from the Secondary Choirs directed by Sam Coates, who wowed the audience with songs from Porgy and Bess. We then heard a lovely arrangement of Seal’s classic ‘Kiss from a Rose’. Both accompanied by WPO. Wandsworth Philharmonic then played Rimsky Korsakov’s Polostvian Dances. The Orchestra played incredibly difficult orchestral music with style and panache. Well done to Rosa, Louise, Adele and Maia for their brilliant solos.

The audience were then treated to the sounds of the Graveney Jazz band. They were led trumpeter Archie Chettleburgh. Their first piece was the big band classic ‘Mack the knife’. featuring Mitchel Guy. Mitchel channelling his inner Sinatra gave a dazzling performance. The second piece was a Stevie Wonder Medley. This was a really intricate arrangement which found the ensemble on top of it’s game. A highlight of the piece was a blazing solo from Jed Casterton.

The last item of the first half was the St Cecilia’s Musical Theatre Group. They had chosen to perform songs by Sondheim. Featuring classics such as ‘Comedy tonight’ and ‘Send in the Clowns’ The whole production was of professional standard. It is absolutely amazing that one school can produce an orchestra, ensemble, choreography and soloists of that standard.

In the second half the audience got to see the Primary choirs perform with the  Wandsworth Philharmonic Orchestra. All the children sang their hearts out. Bravo to all the primary schools involved.

At the end of the concert we were sad to say goodbye to Sabrina Pullen who has worked for Wandsworth Music for 12 years. We wish her luck in all her future endeavours.

Both nights were incredible and showcased the talent and musicality that exists in Wandsworth. A huge well done to all the young musicians involved. As it was recently announced that Wandsworth will be the borough of culture for 2025, there are exciting times ahead for music and arts in the borough.

Wandsworth Music have a very busy summer of concerts ahead so please head to our website for more information.