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High Wycombe's Royal Grammar School to stage a full production of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Watford Colosseum, Sunday, 9th September, 6.30 pm.
The story of Belshazzar's Feast is a tale of ambition and pride. According to the Old Testament book of Daniel, the writing on the wall, which appeared at the mighty banquet staged by King Belshazzar, ruler of Babylon, foretold the king’s certain doom.
If the work of the music department at The Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe is not familiar to you, you might be forgiven for thinking that its latest project may be set for a similar fall. It is a full presentation of William Walton's spectacular oratorio, Belshazzar's Feast, soloist Richard Halton, with a 250-strong choir and 90-piece orchestra with full brass.
But this is no ordinary school music department. It has a proud heritage of producing outstanding musicians, like the violinist Tom Aldren, recently leader of the National Youth Orchestra, Richard Hickox, the late-lamented founder and conductor of the City of London Sinfonia, and Simon Khan, better-known as the internationally acclaimed beat-boxer Schlomo. Perhaps unusually, its annual round of concerts attracts people who come to hear the music, even though their children may not be involved.
The gala concert, to be staged at Watford Colosseum on Sunday, 9th September, 6.30pm, was conceived by the school's Head of Music, Tim Venvell. It raises awareness of music at the RGS, and forms part of a year of celebrations marking the 450th anniversary of the founding of the school.
"We needed something spectacular and truly memorable," says Mr Venvell. "It's rare for anyone to stage Belshazzar's Feast as Walton originally envisioned it, let alone a school.
"But we have so many old boys, current students and friends of the school who support the musical activities here that I thought we could create something on a grand scale. We've all been thrilled by the response; it's going to be an incredible evening." Extra special thanks go to the wonderful students and staff of Wycombe High School.
The full programme for the evening also features Sibelius' Violin Concerto, with Tom Aldren returning as soloist, and, with a nod to Jubilee year, Handel's Coronation Anthem, Zadok The Priest , and Walton's Orb And Sceptre March, originally written for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
"We chose the Colosseum because of the marvellous acoustics and the splendour of the setting," explains Mr Venvell. “When you have an ensemble of this size, you need plenty of room and the RGS Queen’s Hall for once simply was not big enough, and nor was anywhere else in the High Wycombe area. A warm welcome will await you at Watford Colosseum on the night of the 9th September, and we hope many old boys of RGS's distinguished musical past will come and renew their links with the school and with their musical friends.”
"It's a historic concert for a historic year in the life of the school. Everyone is looking forward to celebrating our 450th birthday in unforgettable style."
Belshazzar's Feast, performed by the RGS 450 Choir and Orchestra, is at the Watford Colosseum, on Sunday September 9 at 6.30 pm. Tickets are available from the Colosseum Box Office on 0845 075 3993. Or visit www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk.
Source: Director of Music