The talent of Shrewsbury’s music department was on full display on the 26th of November. Following student performances of “School of Rock” on the previous three evenings, on this occasion, it was the teachers and music tutors who gave the British Club audience a glimpse of the expertise and flair that Shrewsbury students take inspiration from every day.
After a delightful reception on the British Club lawn, the show began with a spectacular drumming display from Head of Percussion, Ms Thayarat (Tommy) Sopolpong. Playing only snare drum, Ms Tommy - Principal Percussionist for the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra - exhibited subtle technique that allowed her to produce some unique and surprising sounds; a perfect way to open the proceedings.
Ms Tommy was followed by Director of Music, Mr David Place and Head of Keyboards, Ms Irina Novikova, who brightened the evening with a Tchaikovski piece, ‘Dance Neapolitan’. The vocal talents of the staff were then centre stage as Director of Choral, Dr Onyu Park, vocal coach Ms Ploen Sopitpongstorn and primary music teacher/guitarist Mr Ron Saw performed their respective numbers; each performance garnering a full-blooded round of applause.
Not to be outdone, Francois Doppler’s ‘Andante and Rondo for Two Flutes and a Piano’ was performed by Flautists Ms Debbie Tulloch and Ms Tatjana Sanhofer with backing from the incomparable Mr Channarong (Jay) Jantararat on Piano. Very much the unsung hero of the evening, Mr Jay, a former Shrewsbury music scholar and graduate of the Royal College of Music gave support to a number of the musicians, gaining recognition for his flawless performances throughout.
Fans of woodwind also enjoyed brilliant performances from Mr Yos (Clarinet) and Mr Supat (Saxophone) who added beautiful tone and colour to a highly varied music programme.
Mr Place returned to complete the first half of the programme alongside fellow trumpeters Steve Jackman (Head of Academic Music) and Mr Paul Archibald, one of three newest world-class additions to the music department this year, and to whom the second half of the evening was dedicated.
Rhys Watkins’ resume makes for very impressive reading, indeed. A recitalist, soloist and first desk violinist for the London Symphony Orchestra, Mr Watkins has performed in many of the world’s best concert halls. On this occasion though, it was the British Club audience that had the pleasure of witnessing his extraordinary talent - much of it in tandem with the other half of the Watkins Duo, cellist Rowena Calvert.
Rowena, Shrewsbury’s Head of Strings, also has a tremendous resume to match her flawless playing. The former member of the Cavaleri Quartet, Artistic Director of Hertford International Concert Series and multiple award-winning cellist delivered characteristically high energy performances to wow members, guests and Shrewsbury’s own staff alike. Given that Shrewsbury strings students are under her and Mr Watkins tutelage, it is no wonder Shrewsbury students continue to impress in Thailand and abroad.
Mr Paul Archibald, Head of Woodwind & Brass at Shrewsbury, is a celebrated trumpeter who has played in concert halls from Germany to Russia and England to Ethiopia. The founder of the English Music Academy and English Brass Academy can get so much out of his instrument that he has played with such musical heavyweights as Sir Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey and Barbara Streisand. Here in Thailand, he imparts his knowledge to aspiring brass and woodwind students who are very grateful for his patience and attentiveness. Playing at the British Club as both a soloist and with the Watkins Duo, Mr Archibald produced his full array of talents to an adoring crowd, who thanked all three with roaring applause at the end of Manici’s ‘Moon River’ - the final number on the night.
In attendance, Shrewsbury Principal, Mr Chris Seal, thanked the audience and paid homage to the talents of all the musicians on the night.
“We are blessed to have such amazing people to educate our young musicians. I am sure you can tell that Shrewsbury music is in great health. All of the musicians you have seen tonight performed with their heart and soul and have contributed to a wonderful evening.”
Director of Music, Mr David Place, echoed Mr Seal with similar sentiments.
“The people you saw here tonight are not only brilliant educators but also some of the finest musicians around. Their dedication to their craft is a real inspiration to their students and is the basis on which Shrewsbury has built its well-deserved reputation for musical excellence.”
If you want to know more about the Shrewsbury Music department, please follow the link on our website here.