Chamber Orchestra and Big Band
Posted on 11 June 2019

The Prospect Theatre was once again packed with an enthusiastic audience, who were treated to another magnificent and, at times sublime, evening of music-making. This time it was the College’s Chamber Orchestra and Big Band.

The theme of the first half was works influenced by folk music beginning with the Theaker Folk Ensemble who played ‘As Sylvie was Walking’ and ‘The Black Velvet Band’.  Singer and guitarist with the band, second year student Jack Theaker, said of the experience, “It was a brilliant opportunity to perform some traditional English folk in front of an audience, carrying on the age old tradition of sharing the music that has been passed down through the generations. It was also a great example of how the department has facilitated the joining of an eclectic range of musicians eager to try out new horizons within music.

Chamber Orchestra followed, with a range of works inspired by folk music, including music by Vaughan Williams, Bartók, Saint-Saëns and Maxwell Davies, rounding off with a suite of contemporary arrangements of traditional Danish folk tunes. Second year student Chiara Imbalzano Hilton said, “It was great to have the opportunity to perform in concert. I liked both the excitement of the orchestral rendition and the richness of the solo version. They were both really fun to perform.”

The second half ramped up the tempo with Big Band opening with the theme tune from ‘Starsky and Hutch’, while those old enough to remember, imagined themselves leaping over car bonnets!  It was then on to the theme tune from ‘Cagney and Lacey’, before first year student Kieran Booker delighted the audience with his rendition of ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’, on the flugelhorn.  Big Band then performed a Stevie Wonder medley that had the audience toe-tapping throughout.  One highlight of the evening featured second year student Dom Hall on new instrument to the department – the cuica, which produces the comical sound throughout Quincy Jones’ ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ (better known as the theme from Austin Powers), and is surprisingly difficult to play.

The College’s Dixie Band and Jazz ensemble, The Prospect Jazz Collective, also performed an eclectic range of traditional and contemporary arrangements.  Second year vocalist Alice Barnden said, “Performing ‘Creep’ has been one of the highlights of my time at the College. I would never have dreamt of having the confidence to perform in front of such a large crowd two years ago, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to perform with a group of such incredible musicians who supported this project from the start.”

Ben Dowsett, Curriculum Manager of music commented, “The students never cease to amaze me with their dedication, hard work and raw musical skill in all that they do in the music department. It is an incredibly busy time of year for them with all kinds of pressures from exams and coursework yet they still perform to an extremely high standard.”