We’re now closed for business until 2 January. Along with our best wishes of the season, here’s a warm account of our final festive event from Phil Draisey (year 3) – with a link to the live streamed video at the bottom. Happy holidays to all from the staff and students of the Music department! Over to Phil:
It’s December the 13th, the last day of term at the University of Southampton. There is a seeping chill in the air and winter rain falls for the first time this month. It is a happy day for students, Music and otherwise, but it is also the day that a wonderful tradition takes place. Each year on this day, the Music Department Christmas Concert is performed: a tradition reaching back many years in which the students and staff of the department collaborate in order to perform for the rest of the University and the wider public. Several years ago, it was decided that the third-year students should be the ones running the show, with everyone contributing in some way in order to have get together to have some fun performing after the heavy assignment season and celebrate Christmas as a department. The concert was a huge success. They vary from year to year depending on the student body and who decides to take the reins, but this year’s was certainly something special.
Why so successful? Too many factors to list, but one reason Is the sheer eclecticism of our department. The acts ranged from early music, to jazz piano, to modern choral, to rare instruments, to seasonal banjolele, to hand bells, to piano satire…and even Afrobeat! There is such variety in our department this year, and it was harnessed to its full extent for the concert, showing everyone just how much we encompass as a musical community.
We were also truly thankful for having so many of our lecturers involved, who were somewhat pressured into the concert, but boy was it worth it. Liz Kenny on the theorbo and lute, Francesco Izzo and Bill Drabkin on the piano, the fabulous angels of the music office on the hand bells, and our brand new, ridiculously qualified Turner Sims Professor Harvey Brough making his department debut, not to mention the lovely Jeanice Brooks who narrated the whole thing. Getting these brilliant minds involved made the concert something profoundly significant, for they spend so much of their time teaching us about music, yet we rarely hear them or see them in the concert spotlight, performing the art that has encompassed their lives, as it will hopefully encompass ours.
And most importantly, there was a sense of social and musical collaboration that made it so unique. The breaking of barriers between staff and student, classical and jazz, early music and pop. We all play and perform in many walks of life, but on this day, we all come together as a familiar ensemble, to engage in our passion of making music. We had our very own student string quartet playing in the foyer, student-made cakes on sale raising money for the local Oxfam music shop, and countless other hands helping to organise, plan, sing and play. Everyone was able to contribute in their own way, whether it was singing in the choir or folding the programmes.
I remember seeing my first Christmas Concert two years ago, and thinking how I couldn’t wait to be a finalist in order to be involved. And now, somehow, it is two years later, and I was not only able to be in the show, but had the enormous honour of helping to organise it. About half way through, I looked around at the audience and saw nothing but countless smiles. It was this moment of smiles, and thinking of the hundreds more from those watching it streaming live online, on the last day of term, that made me prouder of our department than I had ever been before.
The concert ended in a surge of applause, and amongst the tinsel and music and Santa hats on stage, was a group of musicians, of whom I am very lucky to be a member.
You can watch the video of the whole concert that was livestreamed by following this link: