Out There Music Bristol Summer Show, 27th June 2015, St. Alban’s Church, Bristol.
No more than five minutes after I had left the stage and with the applause still ringing in my ears, I was already being greeted by many OTMB and audience members alike and they were all saying the same thing;
“This was the best one yet”……
“Really“? I thought. “Again? How am I going to keep topping these gigs, it’s getting harder and harder every time!”
However, this has been the overwhelming feedback from Saturday’s show - that in terms of the quality of musical performance from all the groups, smoothness of running and the overall atmosphere and feel, Saturday was the best OTMB concert yet. So this has been really gratifying to hear because as always – the amount of work that went into making it all happen is significant!
In February at our Winter Concert at St. George’s (which at the time people were also saying was the best ever!) we utilised a lot of special effects – from the glow sticks and the heart-shaped helium balloons to the umbrellas and confetti – so this time I wanted to keep it simple and focus purely on the music…. it looks like it worked.
Goin’ Home – William Arrns-Fisher’s re-imagining of the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony was a stirring and moving way to open the show and set the scene for a concert which was to be about music and community. Both Community Choirs and the Orchestra sung and played with great composure and emotion.
With the Orchestra having already performed at their own concert in May, you could sense the increased confidence they had and this was reflected in their playing which was more assured than I have ever heard it in a performance to date. I decided to take Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 faster than I have ever done it in rehearsal but decided not to tell the orchestra in advance! This resulted in an incredibly exciting (and possibly also surprising!) 6 minutes of music that a lot of people mentioned afterwards as one of the highlights of the evening.
The Chamber Choir immediately followed and Britten’s The Evening Primrose was certainly quite a contrast to what had just gone before! As always, great musicality was displayed in the four pieces they sang and I’m pleased to say the arranger of ‘Nobody Knows’ was in attendance and delighted with the interpretation.
As I mentioned at the end of the concert, the Children’s Choir did spectacularly well given that half the actual choir couldn’t be there for the show. Anaiya, Siena, Luna and Ruth all sang their solos in Over the Rainbow superbly and when it really mattered and the lights were on them, they pulled it off. I personally was really proud of them and how well they did.
It was only the second time the OTM North and South Bristol Choirs have joined properly to perform together and the combined singing of both groups was the best I’ve heard it with a really good blended sound. It looked good, sounded great and I think the choirs did really well to first capture the poignancy of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me before moving seamlessly into the much more upbeat soul classic, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, made famous by Nina Simone. Two different moods captured effortlessly in close succession all the while taking the audience with you on a musical journey – not easy to achieve as a performer but the NB and SB choirs certainly did just that.
And then for the finale, with both NB and SB Community Choirs, the Orchestra and Children’s Choir all on stage together. Clean Bandit’s Rather Be (which some of my choir members have admitted to me they’d never heard of before March!) kicked it off before leading straight into the Abba classic, Dancing Queen and what a finale it was! I know some choir members may have had some reservations about the dance moves a couple of weeks ago when I casually mentioned they’d be happening, but I think it’s fair to say that there weren’t any doubts left by the time we closed the show. It looked amazing and the spontaneous reaction of some of the audience to stand up and join in tells you all you need to know about the effect it had on them – fantastic!
Some people asked me why we didn’t do an encore of Dancing Queen. There is always an argument for an encore but one of my basic rules for performance is, ‘always leave them wanting more’ and I think the standing ovation we received from the audience tells us we did just that.
So thanks to everybody involved – performers from all the OTMB Groups, the band, everyone who helped with logistics and organising (you know who you are) for all your hard work in making the show the success it was. Apart from the NB and SB Choir’s performance at the Harbour Festival on 18th July – 12.30pm in Queen Square – I will now start planning and plotting for September. So I will say goodbye for now and see you soon……
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