My oh my: the Gulbenkian stage has never seen such a tight squeeze as it did last Friday, with the University Concert Band bursting with players and, as Ian Swatman said, possible the biggest Big Band in the Known Universe taking the stage.
How big a band ?
A packed audience was treated to a first half including A Night on Broadway, theme from Schindler’s List with a poised and elegant solo from Sarah Davies on clarinet, and other pieces by the burgeoning Concert Band. One of the highlights was Gallowgate, a collection of Newcastle folk-melodies and written for a former Newcastle United supporter by composer James Rae, who was present in the audience; trust Ian Swatman to find a way of melding his two passions, music and football…
The second half saw the colossus that is the Big Band powerhouse its way through a dynamic programme, featuring two current University students as singers. Ruby Mutlow glided on for Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Georgia on Mind, whilst Jo Turner shimmered on to sing Anita O’Day’s How Come with fine assurance, as well as a characterful rendition of The More I See You. Both soloists had terrific aplomb and appeared at ease with being in the limelight.
Ruby in rehearsal
There were also some terrific, gravity-defying pyrotechnics from Ian Swatman himself, trading solos with tenor saxophonist Will Rathbone and providing a dazzling start to the final number, Tuxedo Junction.
Hats off to everyone: a terrific gig, well received by an enthusiastic audience. Both bands will be in action again on Wednesday 25 March at St. Edmund’s School, Canterbury, in a charity gig in support of The Lady Mayoress’ Charities for this year, and then again in the summer at ArtsFest. Keep an eye out for more details here soon.
Main photos by Mick Norman; photo of Ruby by Dan Harding.