It was exciting to be in a new venue for Out There Music Bristol’s Summer Show – Bristol Grammar School’s Great Hall is a very dramatic and grand space and also as it turns out a wonderful venue for a cabaret style choir concert! As guests arrived they might have mistakenly thought they had found themselves in Hogwarts but with the addition of the tables being covered in bright and multi-coloured tablecloths with floral centre-pieces and a bar in the corner! It was a beautiful summer’s evening with the sunlight beaming in through the large windows and the scene was set for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.
The show opened with the Chamber Choir singing a very accomplished performance of Victoria’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ which worked perfectly in the hall’s ecclesiastical setting and fitted the acoustic perfectly. Then followed a contrasting programme of music by Eric Whitacre, Damien Kehoe, Paul Mealor, Bob Chilcott and a traditional spiritual arranged by the late Bob Latham who was a big inspiration to me early on in my career as a musician. The Chamber Choir sang with great skill and musical sensitivity as always and got the night off to a really good start.
The audience (and possibly some performers as well!) refreshed themselves at the bar before the Children’s Choir began their set with Adele’s ‘Hello’, a rather apt way to begin their set! Then followed an incredibly heart-warming version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ where we heard solos from Amelia, Daisy, Isla, Cecelia and Esme who all sang beautifully before the rest of the choir came in also. The set finished with a crowd-pleasing performance of one of my favourite children’s songs, ‘This is the Age of Technology’ by Lin Marsh, another inspiration to me early on in my career. As always, the children proved an immense crowd pleaser and deservedly so, they sang brilliantly start to finish.
The concert was in aid of the charity we’ve been supporting for many years now – Changing Tunes – and after the children had sung, I spoke for a few minutes about why I think it’s such a worthwhile charity to support and donate to, citing an inspirational concert I went to back in March showcasing some of the amazing work Changing Tunes do on a weekly basis at Eastwood Park Women’s Prison. (You can read my earlier blog about the prison visit here). Avril Baker and Dave Elles from the community choirs also joined me on that prison visit and following on from me, both spoke compellingly about their own experience of the visit as well. People had the chance to donate either in the traditional way via a collection at the end of the concert or by buying a raffle ticket by text for which we then gave out prizes a little later.
I’m delighted to say that on the night we raised an amazing £879.78 so thank you so much to everybody who donated, it is very much appreciated.
If you’re curious, there is an interesting article about the benefits music can have in prisons which you can read here).
If you would like to attend Changing Tunes’s 30th Anniversary Concert on October 21st, 2017, you can find out more and buy tickets here.
Anyway, back to the show…
The music continued with the OTM North and South Bristol Community Choirs supported by the brilliant band of Gareth on bass, Cam on guitar and James on drums. First song in the set was ‘Love Is In The Air’ which I had been inspired to choose for the choirs back in August 2016 at the (London) Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love where myself and some friends crashed a massive wedding party and this song was one that they played near the end on the dance floor. It was very inspiring and made me want to do something a bit special with the performance when the choirs came to do it a year later. What I came up with was a ‘surprise’ start where the choir members were positioned in the audience ‘having a drink’. When the band started out of nowhere and took the audience by surprise, I arranged the song deliberately so that the different choir sections stood up one at a time with their staggered entries singing “Love is in the air!” I must say it worked even better than I had hoped and after a few grumbles (!) from some people initially, they all pulled it off brilliantly and it led to an amazingly exciting start to the set. (You can see it here). Then followed a rousing performance of Bastille’s ‘Send Them Off!’, the beautifully sung Simon & Garfunkel classic ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, Elton John’s ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me’ (our tribute to George Michael) before the set finished with a very heartfelt (well done guys!) rendition of the Sinatra all time classic, ‘My Way’. It was a great set, sung brilliantly by the choir and the audience loved it.
The children then came back on stage for the show’s finale of the two Queen classics, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Somebody To Love’ which were a fitting end to a fantastic show.
Special thanks goes to Dave whose help was invaluable as always.
And thanks again to everybody who was involved, performers, audience and everyone who helped out – you know who you are and it couldn’t have happened without you….to all those people, thanks for making it a great evening.
See you soon.
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