Blockbuster Concert Review
The summer concerts at Storm Dynamics are always more of a laid back affair than the all-singing, all-dancing Christmas extravaganzas. Perhaps it’s the summer heat calling students away to early holidays and thus depleting our numbers, or perhaps it’s because the concert always falls just after exam season, but right at the start of the long summer holiday. Either way, creating such an easy atmosphere takes a lot of work and this year students and staff alike arrived early at the Wolversdene Club to make sure everything was perfect.
Aaron Austen arrived first as he provided the digital piano which is so vital to our shows. The faithful Roland Digital Grand we have always used is finally showing its age and refused to be transported any more. Aaron was in for a surprise, though, as this year Scott Shortland from Experience DLS was on hand to rig up sound and lighting, and Aaron was soon put to work hitching up rigging and securing cabling.
Whilst The Craft Safe’s Maxine Carr was setting up the refreshments and the raffle table, myself (lead tutor Jo Carr) and compere Russell Nash were setting out chairs and going over the running order one last time. This was to be the Summer Blockbuster concert, our homage to all the great music of the silver screen, and like all movies our show was going to start with the trailers.
Paul West took to the stage first playing both piano and recorder. He had taken a selection of classical music that had been used in well-known advertising campaigns and asked the audience if they could remember which piece had been used to advertise which product. It seemed that the entire audience remembers Hovis using Dvorak’s New World Symphony to advertise their bread, however, Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Merlitons was remembered only by a few for advertising Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut.
The first of our young musician to play was Amy Henry. This is her first concert with Storm Dynamics and only her second in total. She played Colours of the Wind from Disney’s Pocahontas, on the piano. Like many of our young performers she attends Goodworth Clatford C of E Primary School and revealed that some of the other girls had been keeping a running countdown to the Blockbuster just to make sure she’d be going.
Phoebe Matten was up next playing the flute. Phoebe knew straight away that she wanted to perform works from Mary Poppins but could not decide on which. In the end she took the brave decision to play two songs; Let’s go Fly a Kite and Chim Chim Cher-ee. This is the longest public performance she has ever attempted and she did marvellously.
CJ Fabrigaras also took a brave decision regarding the Blockbuster concert. She had only been with Storm Dynamics for three weeks but wanted to participate and so played a piano version of The Campfire Song.
Winner of the Rising Star Award 2013, Lucy Hide played next. The end of the academic year was a busy one for Lucy and she worried that she would not be able to play at all. However, she managed to put together a piano version of Once Upon a Dream from both Sleeping Beauty (more recently used in Maleficent) proving why she so deserved the award last year.
Megan Robinson was a stand-out performer at the Winter Wonderland 2013. That was her first ever public performance and the nerves were mounting. Having successfully conquered them Megan then set her sights on her Grade One Flute exam and performed Edelweiss from The Sound of Music (A list B piece on the 2014 syllabus.)
Hannah Ledwidge had likewise set her sights on Grade One and we got her Clarinet Grade One Results the evening before the concert. She had achieved a merit, a fantastic accomplishment for such a young musician. All the work of Grade One did not stop her readying a piece for the concert, though. Hannah played Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah from Disney’s Songs of the South.
Next up was a very unusual performance. Francesca Martindale and Scarlett Stokes had asked if they could play a duet of Let it Go from Frozen. The girls taught themselves the song from an internet tutorial and had joint lessons in the run up to the Blockbuster so that they could put it together. The result was a mesmerising performance of a very complicated song from two of our youngest musicians. Well done girls!
Robyn Grace had the hard task of following this but her song choice helped her out immensely. She chose to play Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter, a piece written exclusively for the flute (and one of the few at the concert that had not been adapted.) She brought the magic with her and followed it up with a lively version of Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians.
Laura Wilson was the only one of our electronic keyboard players who was able to make the Blockbuster concert. She played a pitch perfect version of the main theme from Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Ware-Rabbit. In the spring of this year Laura took her Grade One exam and achieved a distinction, putting her right into contention for the 2014 Lightning Award.
Paul West came back to the stage next and demonstrated his considerable ability on the Clarinet. He played Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins and Tales of the Unexpected. He said that he appreciated that Tales of the Unexpected was a TV show and not on the silver screen, but then playing it here would be much unexpected, wouldn’t it? It’s hard to argue with his logic.
Sandy Ledwidge went next playing Hard Day’s Night from the Beatles movie of the same name. Sandy is mother to both Rebecca and Hannah and had decided to take up flute in her spare time. After accompanying me to a busking session raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness she asked if she could take part in the Blockbuster. I was delighted to have her and she has since started taking lessons and is threatening to chase her children through the graded examinations. Well done, Sandy!
Kah Wei Lo was the first of our advanced pianists to play and she performed an emotional rendition of Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera. Kah Wei had attended the Winter Wonderland but had declined to play as she was focusing on a demanding version of Elgar’s Dream Children and felt it was not ready at that time. It was wonderful to see her enjoying this concert (and she got the most praise for her Chinese fruit cocktail jelly too!)
Rebecca Ledwidge had taken time out from rehearsing her Grade Five flute repertoire to learn two pieces from the score of Star Trek into Darkness. She played London Calling (no, not the Clash) and the main theme. The theme was a huge challenge for Rebecca as the mid-section had the flute and piano playing two completely separate melodies, something she had never come across before. But, she rose to the challenge admirably and proved how she managed to earn the title of Student of the Year 2013.
Where there are those who love Star Trek there are those who love Star Wars and Aaron Austen is firmly in the camp of Star Wars. He had a long wait from the early set up to his piano arrangement of Vader’s March but it was well worth it. He managed to get a variety of tone an dynamic out of the piano that can only come from hard work mixed with a great deal of natural talent. Aaron was the winner of the Lightning Award for highest exam mark in 2013 and is currently the highest pass mark Storm Dynamics has ever had. He will be taking his Grade Three piano in the winter session and hopes to retain the title this year.
I finished off the concert playing There You’ll Be from Pearl Harbour. I had been given a dubious introduction by Russell, fortunately Dianne Warren writes the most fantastic ballads and by the time I was done I hope my students had forgotten my title of Finder-of-Extra-Washing-up. That will teach me not to write my own introduction.
The array of cakes grows larger with every concert and it is wonderful to see the Storm Dynamics Musicians getting to know one and other after the performing has finished. However, we weren’t quite done, for what is a movie without a teaser for the upcoming feature?
“The Winter Wonderland 2014 will be bigger than ever” Russell announced over the dramatic choir of Sons of War. “We have a new, bigger venue and a larger stage. We have the Storm Dynamics Awards and more Christmas than you can shake a stick at!” At least he would have if the microphone hadn’t fritzed half way through. Fortunately Russell has a set of lungs born on the hockey field and was able to announce loud enough for all to hear.
The Winter Wonderland will be held on Saturday December 13th, 10:00 at the Village Club in Goodworth Clatford. Entrance is, as ever, free.
This summer Storm Dynamics welcomes you to it’s first ever themed concert: The Summer Blockbuster.
As ever the concert will be a varied programme form students of all ages. This year we have everything from seven years old performing in their first ever public performance to retirees who perform publically each and every week.
The range of movie music chosen will reach back over the last thirty years right up to present times and you can look forward to arrangements on a variety of instruments.
Entry is free to the public and refreshments will be on offer. This includes a wide selection of sweet treats baked by the students themselves. We will also be holding a raffle.
To get a hint of which pieces of music our students have chosen visit our facebook page.