concert report - Student / Teacher concert 1st May 1020 (May 02, 2010)
An appreciative audience gathered to enjoy an evening concert hosted by, and show casing the students of Keri Degg.
For many it was the first time they had ever played in front of an audience let alone on a stage, so nerves were jangling a little for many!
The first half of the recital consisted of pieces the students had prepared for performance, with William taking to the stage first. His choice of repertoire (he's a 10 year old, say no more!) was the theme from Spongebob squarepants, played on soprano saxophone. Will had been inspired to take up the sax last year after watching Britains got talents Julian Smith.
Margaret was our next 'victim' and again performing for the first time in concert. Margaret decided to dust her saxophone off after some years locked away in its case after going to my recital last year, so it was lovely to see her on the stage now and not an audience member! Margarets choice was 'A'Olian' a lovely jazz duet full of spirit and fun.
Third on the stage was again, a fairly new player Pete who performed the beautiful 'My funny Valentine' accompanied by myself on piano. This is rather a long piece for a new player and I felt in awe of the total guts it took all of these new players just to get on stage. Pete later played the universally liked 'The Guv'nor' a meaty rock style little piece, which was performed with attitude and appreciated by all.
Next up was Anthony who performed James Rae's 'Waltz for Emily' , again with piano accompaniment by myself. This is a really catchy, funky piece and is always a hit with both children and adults alike. Anthony kept his cool and made it sound rather effortless.
'Lament' (one of the pieces from my 'Mixed bag of styles' collection) was the choice of Kimberley Mason who was performing on Clarinet. The melancholy tone of the Clarinet works very well indeed and freedom of expression through the use of rubato, and piano accompaniment created a silent hush (you've heard the expression 'you could hear a pin drop'?).
Our newest ever player Rebecca (who I believe may be celebrating her 8th birthday shortly) skipped onto stage clutching the clarinet that was almost as big as her, which produced an audible 'Ahhhhhh....' response from the audience. Her choice of recital material being 'Merrily we roll along' and then Hot cross buns, both happy and 'creepy' (minor key) versions. She performed like an old pro with not a glimpse of nerves and delivered a very polished performance, a future star in the making...?
Steve followed next on saxophone, performing Gershwins entrancing 'Summertime' with myself on piano accompaniment. Although like many Steve was understandably nervous (this being his first saxophone performance in from on an audience, and having only been learning a few months) he played with a rich tone, and had arranged the music and sang the 2nd verse, which added a new flavour to the evening). A quick rendition of Steve's favourite 'Tuxedo junction' completed steves spot.
Emily, our only flautist of the day introduced us to the versatility of this somewhat stereotyped sweet instrument, proving that it was able to shine in all genre's. Her choices for the concert were 'Nightmare in Anytown' a contemporary and funky piece with backing adding lots of drama to our programme, before playing 'Tell them Martha sent you' (Sarah Watts). A cool groove on the piano accompaniment provided a platform in which the agile flute could skip around this catchy melody.
Jonathan then took to the stage and we were treated to a short composition of his; 'It flows slow' for solo clarinet, and then 'Tongue and groove' a bouncy yet chilled number for clarinet and backing track.
Sadie (who has performed in all the student concerts to date) took to the stage and enchanted everyone in the building with her beautiful sound and expression, first on Clarinet in 'Cry me a river' and then on tenor sax in 'Ain't it just a kick in the head' (Robbie Williams style!). Sadie and I will be working together in the next year performing in hopefully several recitals in the area.
Two performances on alto saxophone now followed, courtesy of Sandra. She played Colin Cowles 'Drifting' with enchanting tone and expression, and again the dreamy rubato piano accompaniment helped to create an excellent portrayal of the piece. The popular 'Take 5' then followed showcasing Sandra's versatility in a number of styles.
Naomi (again, an increasingly regular performer) played 'Under the sea' from Disneys Little mermaid. The catchy calypso immediately had the audience jigging in their seats and obviously enjoyed Naomi's performance a great deal.
Our final event of the first half consisted of an ensemble piece; 'Twilight trance' written by student Jonathan Butcher who had written it as a clarinet duet for a school music project. I instantly liked the piece and asked if he would mind if I arranged it for Clarinet quartet. With gently interweaving lines, Twilight trance works perfectly for the mellow clarinet voices and despite only one full rehearsal the players performed very well indeed, and many complimentary comments were given regarding it at the close of the concert.
The second half of the concert featured myself performing a variety of laid back choices. I had prepared my programme to appeal to a wide variety of listener. In many ways I was stepping out of my comfort zone as I had chosen to perform on six instruments in the one evening, and wasn't entirely sure whether the embouchure would be on the ball! (however it behaved very well indeed and I needn't have been concerned i'm pleased to report!).
'Countess Cathleen' from Bill Whelan's Riverdance kicked off my programme. Chosen through pure self indulgance because I love his music, and playing celtic flute, this got the audience's attention after all that tea and cakes in the interval!
'Moonglow' and 'Swingin' shepherd blues' followed on Clarinet with smoky tone and subtle vibrato offered to give that 'late dinner jazz' feel, and to get toes tapping!
After a quick tune up, two Gershwin numbers followed on alto saxophone; 'Not for me' and 'I got rhythm' seemed to go down very well with the audience as it is this type of music that of course most will associate the saxophone with. The use of ghost notes and effective dynamics created hopefully an impression of the saxes flexibility and voice like abilities.
The EWI (electronic wind instrument) then made its appearance and for many it was the first time one had been seen. After a brief explanation of the instrument and demonstating how the instrument uses the body as a circuit in order to function (to the hilaritly and astonishment of the audience!), a Telemann Canonic sontata was performed using the delay feature so in effect I was playing a duet with myself. 'Songs for brother' then follwed .
My last pieces were performed on Soprano saxophone, 'This masquerade' (Leon Russell) and 'Feels so good' (Chuck Mangione) saw the return of a late night soft jazz feel, and I admitted to the audience that I did find it extremely hard to resist adding Barry White style vocals in the introduction of This masquerade! A few titters and chuckles emerged on hearing the intro; i'm glad it wasn't just me who thought so! Both of these pieces require quite extensive areas of improvisation and I was pleased at the opportunity to break away from the written notes and just go with the flow.
After thanking all the performers, parents, audience members, and Paul Tombs from www.ptgraphics.co.uk
I ended with the final movement of my Songs for Claire suite for saxophone & piano. 'Flying free' gave a gently sweet ending to our concert that had proved to be a memorable one with many many special moments.
I am so proud of all who took part, thankful to the volunteers who offered to help on the day, parents/guardians for supporting their children musically and for ferrying them around their various musical activities. I was pleased that I had pushed my own boundaries by choosing to play all the instruments, improvising confidently, providing piano accompaniment, and organising the event single handedly. I will look forward to organising a similar event in the not too distant future.
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