Every two years my offsprings’ school runs its House Music Competition, whereby its eight houses containing children from Year 9 to Year 13, compete in performance in front of an independent adjudicator. My Boywonder has been aching to produce his house’s effort for the whole four years and two weeks ago we were delighted to attend the performance. The school theatre cannot accommodate all those who wish to participate and spectate so our invitations were highly prized. And what an evening it was!
Each house has to produce an individual solo performance, a smaller ensemble piece and a piece for the whole house to participate as a choir. The offsprings’ house chose the Gypsy Kings’ Bamboleo and Proud Mary, with a solo horn performance by one of several students at the school who has played with the National Youth Orchestra.
The level of musical talent at the school is actually difficult to believe and it’s one of the reasons our musical children attend. Don’t forget, they now both play in what is officially the best youth windband in the world! It can be difficult, though for the merely VERY GOOD to shine in an environment where there are so many who will go on to become the great musicians of the next generation. Most of the houses contained at least one superlative musician able to perform a virtuoso solo and there were some wonderful performances from some very familiar faces. Some truly mesmerising piano performances were, in my view, rather unfairly marked down by the adjudicator because the musicians had their backs to the audiences.
The children worked on their performances every lunch time and after school for three weeks right from the beginning of term to produce their house offering and there were some excellent moments including a dramatisation of Sweeney Todd complete with Victorian gothic costume and blood-red lighting effects; a Grease medley; a montage of Africa and a Jersey Boys package.
Bamboleo and Proud Mary, though familiar to most of us from my generation, would have beeen completely unknown to these teenagers. But they did really well and I think were rather unfairly penalised for singing the first verse as a quartet. Those of you who know the Ike and Tina Turner version will know that the first verse is sung “nice an’ easy,” but the adjudicator was clearly not familiar with their oeuvre. In the picture above, Miss DD is playing her saxophone at the far left hand side – you can just see her leg – while the Boywonder runs around the choir from the wings to sing the last verse.
Bamboleo wonderfully included an acoustic guitar quartet and, frankly, outstanding vocals from the Byowonder, singing in Catalan. Perhaps because of his Mediterranean-looking colouring, the adjudicator thought he was Spanish and made no mention of this feat, but he was incredible, although I am probably biased. What a wonderful project it was, then, for these 17 year olds to work together as a team and bond and motivate the youngsters to produce something of such high quality.
Our house, unfortunately, came second to winners with a clever contrapuntal arrangement of Michael Jackson songs and a rousing, if rather raucous and populist, version of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Crazy Right Now, complete with their own brass section. They have so much talent in that house, with several planning to go on to study music and an in-house budding rock-star. But for me, our houses’s perfomance carried greater artistic and musical finesse. You’d expect me to say that, wouldn’t you, but it is true and several people have commented along the same lines. But adjudicators can be perverse and the winning house was certainly rousing.
It was strange and flattering to see our musical taste personified on stage by these groups of children most of whom we barely know. All in all I felt incredibly privileged to witness the hard work and creativity being shown off at this special evening and oh so, so proud of the Boywonder. Here he is, below, singing Bamboleo: