Event Review: Cabaret 2015
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Of the many performing arts events throughout the year at Bede’s, it would be fair to say that Cabaret is both biggest, and perhaps the best of all of them.
The culmination of nigh-on three months’ work, when it comes together Cabaret combines the talents of musicians, singers, dancers and dramatists into one evening of lavish displays of talent in every field of the creative arts.
With each year the standard rises, the running order grows longer and the number of pupils involved increases.
This past weekend witnessed Cabaret 2015, an event that rivals even the greatest of professional concerts in terms of its entertainment and the skill of the performers, and it is through the backstage lens of my position as First Trombone for the Bede’s Orchestra and Jazz Band that I can give insight into the weekend’s events.
Rehearsals for Cabaret formally began ten weeks before the event, at the very start of term. Students fresh back from their summer holidays were thrust into a comprehensive program of rehearsals, which from my own position in the Orchestra and Jazz Band very much threw us in at the deep end with a wide range of different pieces.
Likewise the choirs had begun work from the very beginning of term, and the solo musicians had in many cases been working on their performances even before then.
As the weeks counted down, excitement grew, as did the pressure to excel being placed on the students – a challenge they rose to with vigour.
All this came together on the Friday night, when the whole concert was performed in a dress rehearsal to the school’s boarders, to great acclaim, but it was the Saturday night that saw all the stops pulled to ensure the concert was to the highest standard.
Glitz and glamour were the watchwords to the band of excited students as they awaited the opening of the concert.
The evening opened with a piece that perfectly encapsulated the evening’s theme of ‘Best of British’ – Don’t Stop Me Now, that classic of Queen, performed by Freddy Mercury and now recreated by the Bede’s Orchestra and Jazz Choir and accompanied by the Legat dancers, performing a spellbinding routine that amazed the audience.
This was followed by an introduction from the evening’s comperes, Harvey Cole and Joe Robson, who assisted by Alice Potter narrated the audience through the evening’s entertainment.
They introduced the guests to the evening to follow, as well as the next piece of music: Pinball Wizard, by the Who, performed by the Bede’s Orchestra – a piece which I can attest to being very technically challenging, yet immensely rewarding.
This was followed by three pieces demonstrating the individual talents of various Bede’s pupils: Soho Nights, performed by Szofia Lindsay-Macdougall, Tilly Holker and Lily Potter created an exotic sound straight from London’s premier entertainment district.
Chelsea Bridge was performed by Johnny Connell and James Cuxson, two Upper Sixth musicians who demonstrated the immense skill they had developed in their time at Bede’s; and Rosa Witts performed her own composition, Tiny Little Soldiers, to great acclaim at the deeply emotional nature of the piece.
This was followed by the Orchestra taking centre stage again to perform a medley of pieces by John Lennon, including a heart-rending rendition of his famous Imagine, before the room was hushed by the immense vocal talents of Hannah Roberts singing Twisted by Annie Ross.
The first concert of the evening then culminated with Ruby Moody performing Last Night of The Proms, a cello arrangement by Howard Moody that paid tribute to some of Britain’s best-loved and most-recognised melodies.
After enjoying the main course of their dinner, our guests were hushed as the dance floor was quickly turned into a London tavern by the combined dancers of the Legat dance school, who accompanied by the Orchestra and Bede's Singers gave a rousing rendition of Oom-pah-pah from the musical 'Oliver' quickly followed by First Year Max Mason performing Where is Love? from that same musical.
This young man amazed everyone not only with the clarity of his voice, but also with the braveness that enabled him to stand before four hundred people and sing so beautifully. Following this we were treated to several group performances: the Lower Sixth BTEC musicians performed Sun, by modern British group Two Door Cinema Club, and showed us all why they are some of our school’s best musicians.
They were followed by the Cabaret Singers performing two of the best British songs: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, by Monty Python, and All You Need is Love, by the Beatles.
Both of these songs, each an example of the particular British style of song-writing, were impressive in that they were led by soloists drawn from amongst the younger years of the school, the First Year and Fifth Form – a sure sign that the music department is in safe hands when the older students move on!
This was followed by the second performance by Johnny Connell and James Cuxson of the night, performing a supremely smooth rendition of Allan Holdsworth’s Blues for Tony that again blew us all away.
They were followed by a double bill taken from 'My Fair Lady': the Orchestra, Choir and Legat dancers again joined forces to create a day at the races for a performance of Ascot Gavotte while Alice Potter and the Jazz Band gave us a performance of On The Street Where You Live that left us all eager for more.
The next piece, Don’t Stop, was composed by Bede’s music teacher Roy Hilton with our own Jazz Band and some of its musicians in mind. It showcased the ample talents of young pianist Ollie Hutchinson, as well as featuring solos on trombone and trumpet respectively from me and Aidan Kerr.
These exposed musicians showed the audience that you don’t need long in a piece to make your mark.
Following this was perhaps the most emotional piece of the evening, as Bertie Cook performed Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love, accompanied by a dance routine choreographed and performed by Legat pupils Phoenix Tanner and Katie Eedle that moved more than one member of the audience to tears.
The second concert of the evening was rounded off by the powerful vocals of Talisker Cornford singing Adele’s Skyfall alongside the choir and Orchestra, with the Legat Dancers again performing alongside.
It was pieces like this, where all the branches of the Music and Dance departments pulled together, that impressed perhaps the most of all, not just in terms of the coordination between them but also in the display of sheer talent across the whole school that made us all proud to see the fruits of our labour.
The third concert opened with the Upper Sixth BTEC musicians, our premier music students, performing the Arctic Monkeys’ I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor with the help of the Legat dancers, who created a scene deeply reminiscent of a club from the early years of the 2000s.
At this point in the evening, with our elite dancers off the stage, the dance floor could open up, and after some reticence on the part of the crowd they were soon swarming forward to fully enjoy it.
At this point we were treated to a rapid stream of songs from the Jazz Band; first Higher Love, originally by Steve Winwood and now sung by the Choir, and then Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, Everybody Needs Somebody by the Rolling Stones and Day Tripper and Twist and Shout by the Beatles.
Each of these toe-tapping tunes served to drive the dance floor into a frenzy of excitement, as everyone enjoyed a good time together and some fantastic musical talent.
As the music paused for a moment, the Jazz Choir took the stage one last time to wow us with a last two songs: If I Can’t Have You, a song by the Bee Gees, who were only very tenuously included in the Best of British theme, and Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson.
As ever accompanied by the Jazz Band, we were all carried one last time through a rising wave of musical power before we came crashing back to reality with the end of the concert – though the Upper Sixth BTEC band remained for a few more minutes to keep the dance floor going and give everyone just a little more enjoyment before the evening ended at last.
The whole event, as agreed by everyone both in the audience and on the stage, had been a huge success. Every musician gave it their all on the night, including a small cadre of four musicians from the Bede’s Prep School: with a new generation of musicians of their calibre, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more shows like this in the years to come.
Credit must of course go to the event’s coordinators: Miss Morris, Director of Music, who coordinated the event and did the lion’s share of the musical organisation; Mr Scamardella, who managed the orchestra and accompanied with talent many of the performers on the piano; Mr Hopkins, who with his stage crew assembled the stage from which the performance was made, as well as all the light and sound system that contributed to the event.
A host of music tutors and other professionals also contributed to making the event such a huge success in training these young musicians to the best of their potential.
To each of these individuals, the students owe a huge debt of gratitude. We eagerly look forward to our next concert!