Happy Christmas from the Music Department!

Music finalists Ella Garner and Sabine Russell report on our recent Christmas concert extravaganza (!):

On Friday 8th December, the Music Department hosted our annual lunchtime Christmas concert at Turner Sims. We (Ella and Sabine) organised it this year, liaising with students throughout the department and bringing everyone together to create a showcase of wonderful festive talent. This opportunity gave us a fantastic insight into the processes necessary for forming a concert from its inception to the preparation of performers, their equipment and the stage setting. The staff in the music department, notably Louise Johnson, provided much appreciated support. From deciding the content and order, to making the programmes and advertisements, this experience was a fantastic opportunity to learn and the support of our amazing department made it ten times easier!

Emma Atkins

The concert day was incredibly rewarding. We began with rehearsals and sound checks for each act performing followed by a carol rehearsal with our third-year performers and others. After finalising the stage setups and changes, we began welcoming the audience into the hall. We were all pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of people in attendance which enhanced the festivities even more. Some highlights included Kitty O’Neal performing ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17 with Morgan Rickman, Emma Atkins and Georgia Lee as support. The jazz and pop performances continued with covers from Emma Atkins and Sarah Newell with Archie Combe who demonstrated beautiful jazz piano skills in accompaniment.

The two of us performed as part of Bel Cantando (the third-year vocal octet), providing a classical element to the concert. We sang A Spotless Rose by Herbert Howells and a jazzy arrangement of Jingle Bells: the latter resulting in a flurry of applause before we’d even finished singing – Christmas spirit was very much in the air!

Bel Canto
Members of the Grade-one-a-thon orchestra

One tradition is the inclusion of the Grade-one-a-thon orchestra: a group of talented musical students who learn a new instrument to grade one. This provided great light entertainment, welcomed by the audience who enthusiastically sang along. We also enjoyed jazz piano arrangements of popular Christmas tunes performed by staff members Ben Oliver and Andy Fisher. Their second piece was dedicated to the deeply saddening recent passing of Thomas Seltz, a much-loved lecturer in the department.

The Christmas spirit was palpable from the beginning to the end, with everyone in the audience singing along with our carol choir.

We were privileged to work with the charity MenCap: many of their members attended the concert, which they enjoyed immensely. MenCap raised nearly £300 by selling Christmas goodies in the foyer of Turner Sims afterwards and we are thrilled to have offered them the platform to enjoy some festive tunes whilst raising some money for their great charity.

Mencap Stall in Turner Sims

We are over the moon with the response we received from performers and members of the audience. It was great to see the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Christopher Snowden, make an appearance at one of our concerts and to stay to talk to students afterwards. We hope that we were able to convey the energy, passion and talent that all our students have for our department and craft, and the respect and admiration we have for all our tutors and members of staff. We would like to thank everyone who participated and attended, and the music department for their continued support.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Ella and Sabine!