(pic. James Haigh)
It was billed as ‘The Best of Broadway’ and the audience certainly had their money’s worth of show tunes in an epic concert at a packed GLive on 26th March, with Friary accompanying the Guildford based Vivace Chorus under their conductor Jeremy Backhouse.
Friary opened the concert appropriately with ‘Strike up the Band’, before MD Chris King handed the baton to Jeremy for medleys from ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Carousel’. It was then time to showcase the Band again. Richard Straker provided the musical fireworks with a dazzling cornet solo of ‘Defying Gravity’ followed by Chris Straker’s mellow euphonium sounds, every bit as rich and velvety as Willy Wonka’s chocolate, in ‘Pure Imagination’. The first half concluded with a joint selection from the much-loved ‘Les Misérables’.
After the interval, a joint medley from ‘Oklahoma’ saw the second half off to a rip-roaring start. Lauren Straker on flugelhorn then entranced the audience with a wonderfully evocative performance of the late Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ before the Band completely changed the tempo again with the high energy number ‘Comedy Tonight’. A further change of mood was provided by both ensembles with a selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best-loved songs: no musicals-themed concert would be complete without them. Whilst the choir took a breather, Friary played ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ – now something of an anthem for the Band – before both ensembles moved to the finale, featuring favourites from ‘West Side Story’.
It was a tour-de-force for both groups, but especially for the Friary players. Vivace Musical Director Jeremy Backhouse was full of praise. Thanking Friary MD Chris King, he wrote: ‘Just a quick email to thank you and the band for their amazing contribution to the success of the concert on Saturday. They were really flying and everyone I have spoken to since the show has been full of praise and admiration for their playing. I am so grateful to you and them for joining us in what turned out to be a really fantastic night! Their stamina was immense and I just loved sharing the platform with them - they are a joy to work with …’ Jeremy is very keen to arrange another joint concert, though it may well be a couple of years away.