From Ravaloe to Salzburg…. Via Warwick and Panto Land

Musician and Guinness World Record Flautist

From Ravaloe to Salzburg…. Via Warwick and Panto Land

Never let it be said that the life of a musician is a boring one.  We have all the problems of everyday life (such as a very poorly car at the moment that is off the road) but mixed in with all the mundane is the wonder of an eclectic array of musical outings.  This past month has whizzed by in a blur, and it is a shame I didn’t have the time to blog some of my ventures before they happened.  Suffice to say I have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of the shows or concerts I have been involved with during the past month.

19th November-23rd November was spent at the Abbey Theatre in Nuneaton as Musical Director for the wonderful ‘Silas Marner The Musical’.   Sudden Impulse always put on amazing shows, and this was no exception.  The production was all the more poignant as it was 200 years since George Eliot’s birth during the week of the show.  George Eliot wrote ‘Silas Marner’, and unlike many of her books it has a happy ending.  This musical version had been commissioned by Sudden Impulse and I am very proud to have been part of its world premiere. I hope that we may get to perform it again in the future, as it was a quality show, true to the book, well written and with catchy songs.

The next week there were two choir concerts, very different from each other.  As some of you know, I run Sparkle Theatre, but what you may not know is that there is a Sparkle Theatre Choir, which rehearses on a Thursday night.  It is very much a community choir, who love singing together and have come a long way since its formation in January 2019.  Their Christmas Concert on 28th November included many favourites, from ‘Let It Snow’ to ‘Winter’s Tale’, ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ to ‘Oh Holy Night’.  I am very proud to say that the Sparklies raised £100 for Cancer Research UK at the concert, on what would have been my mums birthday (she died of cancer in 2016), and it is my intention that Cancer Research UK will become Sparkle Theatre’s/Sparkle Theatre Choir’s designated charity for all future charitable events/performances.

The 29th November was the night of the Atherstone Chorale’s Christmas concert.  I have been Musical Director for the Chorale since 2010, and I was their accompanist for over 10 years before that.  It is a very different choir from Sparkle Theatre.  Much of what is sung is very classical, although I do sneak a few pop numbers into the mix.  What is also lovely about the Chorale concerts is that we get to work with some additional musicians, as I write arrangements for all of the pieces we are performing.  This year we had the addition of 2 flutes and a violin alongside our usual accompanist. I was extremely pleased with how well received the concert was, and I am looking forward to our next venture – The Faure Requiem, which we will be performing in the summer as part of our summer concert.

I have to admit that the 2nd-8th December had the potential to be a nightmare, but actually was wonderful. People who know me will tell you that I take too much on.  I can’t help myself! Part of this is due to the thinking, if you are offered work and turn it down you might not be offered it again, but over-riding all of that is such a love for what I do, and the variety of what I do, I just want to do all of it. 

Sparkle Theatre performed it’s 2nd ever pantomime 4th-7th December 2019.  ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ was written and directed by Anthony James.  I was involved with the producing side of the production (much of the paperwork, liaising and purchasing of everything from paint to projectors).  We were fortunate enough to have Sparkle Theatre’s patron, Liz Webster, at the Thursday night performance. I had to wait until the Saturday matinee to see the show, due to other commitments.  Both of us could see just how far everyone on stage had progressed since joining Sparkle Theatre.  So many of the Sparklies had never acted or performed before joining us back in September 2018 and I am incredibly proud of the progress they have made, and what an amazing ‘family’ of performers they have become.  I am really looking forward to directing Sparkle Theatre’s next production – ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ with the songs of Abba.  Not sure how Shakespeare and Abba can go together?  Come along and see our show in June 2020.

For the past two weeks (3rd-15th December) I have had the best time playing flute in the pit at Rugby Theatre for ‘The Sound of Music’.  I love pit work.  It is my favourite place to be, musically.  Every performance is different.  The flute part for The Sound of Music is lovely to play, with some wonderful little solos. The cast were great, and I got to work with a brilliant Musical Director, Richard Taggart.  I have known Tag for 20 years, playing G&S with him at The Swan Theatre in Stratford and working with him at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on shows like ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’.  I did have to put a dep in for one performance however, which is something I always try to avoid.  However, when I commit to something, I always honour it, and on Saturday 7th December I was accompanying the wonderful Expressivo for our annual Christmas Concert in Warwick, in aid of Cancer Research UK. A huge amount of money was raised for the charity and as ever it was a pleasure performing with Abi, Penny, Dave and David.

The Sound of Music finished on 15th December, and so in theory I am now on the Christmas wind down.  However, I am still in panto rehearsals for Sudden Impulse’s ‘Aladdin’, which I am Musical Director for, and this is being performed at The Abbey Theatre in Nuneaton in January 2020.  Sparkle Theatre will begin rehearsals for Much Ado in the new year, so there are preparations for that.  I have taken on the role of Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, to be performed at The Abbey Theatre in April 2020 with NAODS.  It has been a few years since I trod the boards, but it is a challenge I am looking forward to.  The Atherstone Chorale and Sparkle Choir will resume rehearsals in the new year, so preparations re repertoire etc will have to be made over the coming weeks.  I am still organist at St Peter’s Church in Galley Common, and I have some very important services coming up over the next few weeks, as I am sure you can imagine.  Sparkle Theatre are also going on the road ……. Well, for one night only they are performing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at The Pavilion in Stockingford, Nuneaton. 

I am not going to lie ……. I am shattered!  But would I change the past few weeks?  Not a chance! I have loved being part of every single one of the performances and productions I have been involved with.  2020 promises to be just as busy as 2019.  There will come a time when I might need to slow down a little ……………but not yet!