Audience Blown Away By Young Wind Musicians
The sell-out concert by the Highland Schools Wind Band and the Highland Youth Big Band on Saturday night in Eden Court was a resounding success and the long and loud applause and cheers at the end of the night confirmed that the appreciative audience had as much of a blast as the young musicians.
The evening begun at a fast pace with the 70 members of the Highland Schools Wind Band performing a medley conducted by Norman Bolton. The next piece Percussion Perspectives showcased the talents of the five young percussionists as they juggled an array of instruments to accompany the quick tempo of the wind musicians.
The pace was then slowed down to a more mellow beat with before the band performed an ambitious Suite no 1 written by Holst which highlighted the true extent of the professional ability of the young performers. So confident was he in the band that Norman stood down from his role of conductor when they went on to perform a medley of tunes from the musical and film, Mamma Mia which was a big hit with the audience.
The band was then joined on stage by special guest Maurice Clarke, a graduate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama who has spent the last 25 years performing in theatres across the world. His credits include performances in Les Miserables, the lead role in a national tour of CHESS and over the last few years he has regularly performed as a solo concert artist with the Scottish National Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and recently on Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Originally from Ayrshire, this was Maurice’s first visit to Scotland since 1983 and he delighted the audience by performing a number of songs including Anthem from CHESS.
The wind band then drew the first half of the evening to a close by performing a medley called Thrillers and Chillers featuring music from films scored by John Williams including the instantly recognisable music from Jaws. This was followed by a lively polka and a jig before all stops were pulled out to end with a lively medley from Lord of the Dance. The cheers and applause rung out as the audience showed their appreciation to all the young players who come from 16 different Secondary schools and due to the geography of the Highlands, only get the opportunity to meet up to rehearse and perform a few times each year. For many of the performers, this was their last public concert with the band as at the end of the term they will be leaving school.
The Highland Youth Big Band took centre stage for the second half of the evening and aptly started their set with Johnny Lee Hooker’s song – Boom Boom. Under the guidance of Brass Instructor Rob Farmer the 20 young musicians lived up to their growing reputation as they treated the audience to a renditions of the 1980’s Eurythmics hit “Would I lie to You.”
The tempo was temporarily slowed down to perform “Send In the Clowns” with Shona Berque from Tain Royal Academy playing lead Alto Saxophone. Vocalist Michael Lightbody from Charleston Academy added a new dimension to the band when he joined them for two numbers - Paper Moon followed by Fly Me To The Moon.
The band then gave a great rendition of the St Louis Blues written in 1914 and made famous by the Glen Miller Band followed by One Day I’ll Fly Away originally a hit in the 1980s for Randy Crawford and featured in the film Moulin Rouge.
Maurice Clarke then came back on stage to sing as the band played a number of tunes including a hot and spicy version of Ricky Martin’s hit – Dance With Me, a song from Les Miserables and I Get A Kick Out of You. The band expertly accompanied Maurice and their music was an excellent accompaniment to his outstanding voice. It was incredible to believe that the band had only met Maurice for the first time earlier in the day and had limited rehearsal time with him.
With a big finale up their sleeves the band then ended with the 1981 hit by The Police, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. The cheering audience was not going to let them leave the stage without an encore and they didn’t disappoint with a big blast of “Hey Big Spender” which left the audience leaving with music ringing in their ears.
During the evening Norman Bolton paid credit to all the young musicians. He said: “They really are a credit to themselves, their schools, their tutors and their families and it really has been an incredible experience to work with such young and enthusiastic talent. Unfortunately many of the musicians will be leaving us at the end of the term but I hope lots of new talent will come forward during our audition days and all of our musical groups continue to flourish.”