Book your tickets for the annual School of Music and Performing Arts Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie which will involve around 60 of our talented students – onstage, backstage, or playing in the live band!
Yesterday we were treated to a Lunchtime Concert by the amazing Broadway Choir, originated and conducted by Phil Hornsey. We started the performance with a stunning rendition of Circle of Life by Elton John and Tim Rice. The solos by Phillip McParland, Francesca Manklelow, and Bethany Hunt were wonderful and folded straight back into the ensemble.
Next we had two numbers from the hit musical Rent, Seasons of Love and No Day But Today. The numbers were beautifully harmonised with stunning solos from many students throughout.
After this we moved onto a brilliant medley of the best of Rogers and Hammerstein, using numbers such as The Hills are Alive (Introduced to us by Bethany Couch who if you closed your eyes sounded exactly like Julie Andrews!), Oklahoma and South Pacific.
Following this was the hauntingly performed Bring Him Home from Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Alain Boublil. This version gave us a harmony which does not exist in the original but having heard this should do.
To bring the mood back up after this we heard a song from I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change called Cantata for First Date, showing us two people getting ready for the first date. This was hilariously performed by all with great timing and facial expressions to boot.
The show was finished up with a lovely duo of Day by Day from Godspell and In the Beginning from Children of Earth. Once again we heard strong solos from members of the group, showcasing the wealth of talent that this company of singers has.
A special mention for Nicola, who was our guide through the musical numbers for the afternoon and gave us brilliant insights to the history of the pieces, as well as the wonderful Phil who not only accompanied the numbers but arranged some of the pieces as well.
Definitely a performance to look out for again, let’s see what they do next time. For videos from the performance, check out our Facebook page here!
This lunchtime we were treated to a concert by the University Big Band, lead by the Wonderful Steve Waterman. The concert consisted of five numbers, chosen to show off the brilliant playing and improvisational skills of the performers. Each of the performances were seamless, with Waterman’s careful but precise conducting. He would always stand to the side during a solo so that the audience could appreciate it better, but then bring all of the band’s attention back to the piece with the slightest of gestures. Coupling this with the laid back style of music made the atmosphere much more relaxed and enjoyable.
The pieces were a wonderful contrast to each other. From the bluesy Sandu by Clifford Brown and the wonderfully sweet Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard to the upbeat and cheerful Killer Joe by Benny Golson, the beautifully moving A Child is Born by Thad Jones to the New Orleans funeral march Red Vest Man by our very own conductor and composer Steve Waterman that made you want to get up and salute the bygone heroes of the ’40’s and then have a great big swing dance afterwards
(I think you can tell which was my favourite piece).
The solos by the performers were spectacular, made even more so by the fact that they were improvised. A beautiful moment passed during one solo in which Jason (guitar) gave an appreciative smile towards Ben ( piano) during the latter’s solo in one of the numbers. It is such moments as this that make you realised not only are these students incredibly talented, but they respect and build up each other’s talent and strength in doing so. the only thing i could say was that the stunning piano solos by Ben and the guitar solos by Jason whilst reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet were sometimes not loud enough to be fully heard and therefore appreciated more. Thankfully, the brilliant trumpet players Matt, Ayla and Adam, as well as drummer Chris had no such problems.
A special mention must be made to Anne Louise Jones, William Marsh and Evie Lawrence who stepped into the band at the last minute to cover performers who were unfortunately unwell. ( Evie stepped in less than an hour before the concert!) If it had not been mentioned at the start i genuinely believe that you would not have realised that they were there from day 0 given the way that the band worked perfectly through the pieces.
Let me start by saying that i am not a christmas person. The christmas jumper my mum bought me has Darth Vader and the word Humbug across it, and my favourite christmas film is Die Hard.
I have just come back from seeing The Sparkle Thief by Cut Feather and i have to say, i am feeling very christmas-y indeed. The story follows two intrepid Elves who are trying to regain the Sparkle ( the physical embodiment of Christmas Spirit) after it is stolen by one of their own. Along their way they meet a myriad of good and bad characters ( including two of the Original reindeer Dasher and Dancer, Good King Wenceslas and the evil Ice Queen)
The songs are well written and catchy ( I have had the opening number stuck in my head since 2pm yesterday) and sung beautifully by the cast. The scenes have a great pace and show the versatility of the actors well. Also i must add that the scenery, effects and lighting work so well together, it truly makes it more magical.
I do not wish to spoil the story for anyone who will go to see the show (because you should), so i will simply say that this wonderful show is brilliant for all ages and show not be missed.
We finished the term this year with our spectacular Christmas Concert, performed by some of the university choirs and ensembles. Our room in Augustine Hall had been festively lit, courtesy of the Brilliant tech department, and the stage was set for the performers. I should apologise now. I had fully intended to take pictures to share here of all the performers, but near to the end of the first act i realised i had been so enraptured by the vocalists and the ensembles that i had forgotten to lift my phone to take any pictures. ( again, the Tech Team came to my rescue having taken some footage themselves, which will be added to our social media.)
We started with the University Chorus, an ensemble open to anyone and directed by our Director of Music, David Allinson. They sang with great enthusiasm and we were all particularly amused by the split choir, with one half on either side of the room singing in perfect time. Following this was the University Symphonic Orchestra and the University String Orchestra, both conducted by Martin Outram. The pieces were wonderful, Particularly the Haydn Piece Symphony No.103. Utilising the best players, the piece was well rounded and lovely to hear.
After the interval we have the Brilliant Top Voices, a 13 piece strong Female vocal group lead by Chris Price. They performed 6 short pieces all detailing different aspects of the Christmas story. The pieces were beautifully sung, My personal favourite being Maria Matrem Virginem by Michael McGlynn which was hauntingly lovely. Following them were the University Wind Ensemble, conducted by John Harle and Alan Rooke. These performed brought the pieces to life with their brilliant and sharp performances, Especially Gustav Holst’s Suite in F Major. Here I must commend the Flautist Lizzie White, who not only played the Flute brilliantly, but also the Piccolo, switching deftly between the two.
Finally we were treated to Pieces from the Chamber Choir, a trio of beautiful Choral numbers, before rounding off with a festive number; Have yourself a Merry little Christmas. Under the direction of David Allison, these well arranged pieces became a fitting end to a lovely evening.
From what i heard from the audience as they left, this performance was a resounding success, made only better by a few small Hero moments i would like to share.
The first is to the brilliant violin pair whose battle against the Air-conditioner meant that their music fell from their stands several times. However, they played on as well as any professional i have seen, particularly when one of them held the page with her bow so that the other could play.
And to the soloists of the evening, Ellie German, Emily Prest and Robin Davis, as well as all those in the Music Ensembles. Your voices were lovely and incredibly clear and we commend you for you wonderful performances.