This year’s Combined Senior Schools’ Concert, held annually at the Celebration Centre, was last night hosted by Gateway High School. It showcased the musical talent of 15 Harare and Marondera schools.
With the theme Hope for Africa running through the evening’s proceedings, the full-to-capacity audience was treated to a two hour concert of a wide range of instrumental and vocal music, compèred by the indefatigable Stan Higgins, with assistance from senior Gateway students.
The evening began with a welcome address and prayer by Gateway’s headmaster, Tim Middleton, who promised it would be an evening of “celebration” that reflected a “community coming together”. There was certainly plenty to celebrate.
The full combined schools’ orchestra, featuring a staggering array of instruments, opened the concert, and was followed by polished performances from the string orchestra and wind band. Classical music has tended to be somewhat undervalued in Zimbabwe and it was heartening to see so many talented young people participating in the genre.
The orchestras were followed by the always popular Pipe band, welcomed onto the stage by a huge round of applause. The band featured pipers and drummers from Churchill Boys’ High School, and was led by the St John’s College band, recently returned from a successful tour to Edinburgh.
An acapella group, featuring vocals from five schools, entertained the crowd between stage changes, with their joyful adaptation of Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are. The Big Band kept energy levels high with their Caribbean and Swing set, featuring impressive solos from saxophones, trombone and drums. The instrumental section concluded with the always entertaining and accomplished marimba band who finished their set with a piece composed by their coach, Nic Manomano.
The concert finale was a selection of six pieces sung by the enormous Combined Choir of more than 500 voices. The choir led in to a rousing, drum-led arrangement of Margaret Singana’s We are Growing and filled the hall with their voices, and the stage with their colourful mix of uniforms. The selection of songs included a crowd-pleasing rendition of Rock my Soul and ended with an arrangement of Sing, written by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber for the Queen’s Jubilee last year.
Girls’ and boys’ choirs had opportunity to shine in separate numbers, but it was the goose-bump inducing effect of the 14 school choirs singing in harmonised unison that demonstrates why events like this are important for our country.
The Combined Schools’ Concert is a highlight in the schools’ calendar every year and this year’s concert certainly did not disappoint. In the words of Gateway’s Head, the evening was indeed “a celebration of youth, a celebration of life, a celebration of music, a celebration of hope, a celebration of Africa and, ultimately a celebration of God.”
Participating schools: Arundel, Chisipite, Churchill, Dominican Convent, Eaglesvale, Gateway, Harare International School, Hellenic Academy, The Heritage, Peterhouse Boys, Peterhouse Girls, Prince Edward, St George’s College, St John’s College, Watershed College.