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Review of NMPAT A Wind Band Spectacular at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Following last weeks undignified emotional breakdown during the NMPAT An Orchestra Spectacular. I returned with trepidation to the scene of the crime for the Wind Band version. Knowing what to expect calmed the nerves somewhat, so it generally made less of an impact on me the second time. Perhaps also was the selection of music on offer, where last week the selection was almost a fantasy collection for me. This time around not a single tune performed during the show was familiar to me. They were however all very good and performed exceptionally by the three band. The exceptional pieces for me were the slave underground inspired They Shall Run Free by Brant Karrick and Ghost Train by Eric Whitacre. The latter genuinely sounding like a train journey with added musical melodies.

There was however during the first part no hint of the emotion that had waylaid me the week before. However this was not to be the case early into the second half, when I was presented with the experience of my first solo piece and the shear individual skill involved. For the whole of the second half, our host of the two weeks, Mr Peter Smalley had taken up the baton to conduct the County Youth Concert Band and for the second piece, Fantasy For Marimba, we were introduced to pupil and fellowship winner, Jemma Sharp. Her task during the long piece written by Hayoto Hirose was to be epic, including a stunning solo. Not only was the pace ridiculously fast at times, there was even the challenge of dealing with swopping fourteen different sticks, of which most of the time four are used. Coming from someone who can just about use knife and fork without incident, it really was amazing. Miss Sharp at one point pretended to let us know she was human by picking up the wrong sticks. I am sure I know better, Marimba players are indeed from Mars.

It was the moment of the two shows for me and the audience also agreed as a majority were up on the feet for a wholly deserved standing ovation. There was also the added magical moment of a spontaneous round of applause breaking out again when she tried to sneak back onto the stage at the back. Just stunning was the whole thing.

The experience of these two concerts was pretty much unlike any other I have experienced in the theatre in the last year. While its clear that none of these are professional performers, indeed many of them are incredibly young, the talent on show for me was quite amazing. I simply loved absolutely every single minute of both shows. One word: FABULOUS!


Performance reviewed: Sunday 7th March, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

A Wind Band Spectacular was part of NMPAT's A Spring Festival Of Music. For more details visit their events page at 
http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/music/community/events1/pages/default.aspx

Details of Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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