Wednesday 16 Feb saw the extraordinary Blundell’s in Space Concert. The sheer scale of the conception and performance was, forgive the pun, “out of this world!” The afternoon saw a matinée for local primary schools, and we were delighted to welcome not only our own prep and pre-prep, but also pupils from Wilcombe and Heathcoat Primary Schools and everyone had a great time in a condensed version of the concert. Then the stage was reset, and the catering team worked their usual wonders ready for the evening performance.
From the moment British astronaut Tim Peak welcomed us to the start of the concert we knew we were in for something extra special. The staging, light show, extraordinary visuals and immersive multimedia turned Big School into an immersive exploration of our universe that was a feast for the senses. The international best-selling children’s author James Mayhew provided astonishing live paintings full of mysticism and wonder, and former teacher-turned-astrophysicist Matt Lodge exuded an infectious passion and wonder for the mysteries of the universe in his talks as we learned about its scientific properties.
And then, of course, there was the music. Featuring nearly 200 of the senior school pupils, alongside 100 guests from our own Prep School, St Peter’s Lympstone and Exeter Cathedral School, the sheer variety and quality of the performances was breath-taking. From orchestral extravaganzas of Holst’s Mars and Jupiter, Star Wars, Hans Zimmer and Dr Who, through to beautiful choral pieces by Ešenvalds and Björk. From the fun choir arrangements of Bowie, Elbow, Elton John and Chris Hoban to the serene piano duets and smaller chamber items of the planets. From the swinging jazz of the Big Band to the toe-tapping folk reel of the violins. From Mr Berrow introducing War of Worlds to the musical theatre solos from our Year 13s and the surprise of Cage’s 4”33. Every single item was performed with passion, dedication and an extremely high level of skill which showed just how hard our musicians have worked in the months leading up to this event.
The concert came to a close with three haunting pieces; the Unanswered Question with its beautiful depiction of the mysteries of the universe, E Lucevan Le Stella from Tosca, with singing teacher Eamonn Mulhall reducing the audience to tears, and Eric Whitacre’s incredibly moving and suitably enigmatic Deep Field, complete with audience participation in the form of the app to accompany the piece. The reception at the end of the concert from the audience was quite remarkable. The warmth and appreciation from the 350-strong audience for an occasion that transcended a school concert and became an artistic production, hit the performers in a huge wave and a standing ovation lasted for over five minutes.