The highlight of last year’s Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall for me was the John Wilson Orchestra, who performed a night of Hollywood film music. I was lucky enough to get tickets for my Dad and me, and we enjoyed every minute.
For the Proms this year, Wilson relocated from the West coast to the East – and compiled a divine evening of music celebrating the golden age of the Broadway musical, and I was in place to get tickets as soon as booking opened again, but this time for my Dad, me and Elaine of Random Jottings.
It’s so lovely when you finally meet blogging friends you’ve been corresponding with for ages, it’s always a pleasure and our virutal friendship has now been cemented into a proper one, and I hope we can meet up again soon (certainly for the Proms in 2013). Elaine has also blogged about the evening here.
Before I describe some of the musical highlights, if you like musicals and are in the UK, set your recorders for BBC2 on Saturday 1st when it’ll be broadcast on TV.
The key thing for me, listening to and watching John Wilson’s handpicked orchestra, is that the players really invest themselves in the music – they visibly live, breathe, and enjoy it so much. The sense of fun, drama, melancholy – whatever the song desires, the orchestra embodies it. Add a superb choir in the Maida Vale singers, and an A-list cast of soloists and you have an evening of musical bliss.
Below is a clip of Anna-Jane Casey and Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane performing the comedy number ‘Seven and a half cents’ from the Pyjama Game, one of two duets they performed together. Wilson’s programme was a lovely blend of the familiar, Tonight from West Side Story (sung beautifully by Sierra Bogguss and Julian Ovenden), and lesser known gems of songs like Joey, Joey, Joey from Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella, and Little Tin Box from Fiorello! – I’d never heard of either musical, but these songs were great, and all six soloists were amazing. The orchestra also did some instrumental numbers – I loved the jazzy ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue from On Your Toes.
After the show-stopping closer ‘Mame’ (see Elaine’s post for a clip of that), we were all on our feet to give a standing ovation, and were rewarded with a wonderful encore which featured a row of tap dancers in Top Hats, Spats and Tails. What a night!