The annual Remembrance concert promoted by Portsmouth Grammar School, featuring a newly-commissioned choral work, is a particular highlight of the Portsmouth’s music scene.
But nothing has surpassed the 2012 edition.
The new work was The Song of Names by Roxanna Panufnik, based on Norman Lebrecht’s novel about a Polish refugee whose family died in the Holocaust.
Ms Panufnik’s ability to make an emotional connection, particularly in matching words to music, was evident both in the baritone solos sung with awesome power by Nigel Cliffe and in the exceptional choruses from the PGS Chamber Choir.
The sense of grief was almost tangible, yet the music is ultimately very uplifting.
The choir and the London Mozart Players under Nicholas Cleobury displayed fervour, finesse and flair in catching every different shift of mood.
The concert was also notable for solos by two PGS pupils. Clarinettist Phoebe Carter (year 12) was particularly successful in catching the elegiac quality of Finzi’s Five Bagatelles, and Isaac Waddington (year 9) was as moving as he was assured as treble soloist in a potent, beguiling account of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.