I don’t always post reviews and reflections of everything I do. But sometimes I feel the need to, and this is one of those times.
In January, an astounding human being died. He wasn’t a celebrity known worldwide. But his funeral showed just how much of a celebrity he was in local circles. I’ve never heard singing at a funeral like I heard at this mans.
His name was Peter King and he was one of the happiest and kindest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing in my 30 years on this planet yet. He was an incredible tenor and his voice sent shivers up my spine.
Peter was the president of Hounslow Light Operatic Company, which as many of you know, this is a group that I have been Musical Director for for 3.5 years now. If it wasn’t for Peter, I would not still be there. He made it happen for me.
Since then I have done many shows with them. A full list is on my past events page. Among them has been my biggest triumph so far in my musical life. My arrangement of the full orchestral score for Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado for one man (me) on the Electronic Organ. Peter gave me the go ahead with this idea, and encouraged it, and it came to stage alongside the group performing the show. This then encouraged me to do the same for the show Trial By Jury as well.
This time last year, it was clear Peter wasn’t well and it was mentioned that we would be doing Ruddigore as our 2018 show and he’d said it was his favourite Gilbert and Sullivan opera. It was said that it might end up being done in his memory, which I’d hoped it wouldn’t, but as you see from the first part of this, it was.
This was a show that I was onstage in as a teenager with Savoy Singers Camberley and was one of my favourites too. As soon as I knew we were doing this, I knew I wanted to do another organ arrangement of this show and Peter’s death confirmed that without a doubt I was going to do it.
I spent 6 months from January, sitting in the corner of my church, with my organ in front of me and my laptop on a stool next to me, arranging and transcribing the full orchestral score of 20+ musical staves, to two hands and 1 foot (other foot controlling volume and sound changes).
As I’ve said, I’ve been there and done that before, so what makes this one so special and different you ask (apart from doing it with Peter in mind)?
It was so many things. The biggest being working alongside Stage Director Wesley Henderson-Roe, who stepped up to the post for Peter. He is the next happiest man next to Peter, that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. He worked with me every step of the way to make this one of the most spectacular productions, that I’ve ever been part of. No detail was left untouched.
Of course, it wasn’t just us 2 involved in this. It was an insanely big team, that took so many pages in the programme to name.
Firstly, the cast. You don’t have a show without a cast, and each and every member of the cast on that stage blew me away all week. I felt so many different emotions as I watched them every performance telling the story. I was in tears laughing at times, even to jokes I’d seen throughout the rehearsal period a lot of times and I’m usually not someone to laugh at hearing the same jokes again. I wish I could name and comment on each of them, but that would take forever, so just a general big thank you to them all for the effort they put in and I hope they will all return and join us again in future shows.
Next, to mention, though no less important in my eyes, is my Co-Musical Director, Isabella Stocchetti. She brought the colour out of the music, while I played the one man orchestra. She brought the music to life through her insane smile and happiness, while conducted us. She travelled 30+ miles to be with us for so many rehearsals and every day for the show. She is a star in my eyes. Once we did our first show together, we knew it wouldn’t be our last. I knew straight away, I was not going to take Musical Director crown alone with this. We worked as a team and both deserve to be recognised for it. So a humongous thank you to her for everything in the last few months.
Next to mention is Karen (choreographer) and Fay (Karen’s assistant. Karen is wheelchair bound and therefore needed assistance with showing her vision to the cast, which is where Fay came in. They made choreography rehearsals a lot of fun for me as a rehearsal pianist and that’s a tough thing to do. As a rehearsal pianist, I find choreography rehearsals painful as it’s very repetitive, but Karen and Fay always made me feel part of it.
One more big mention I feel is the extra Singers we added to boost the sound. The choir we called them. They sat in the circle and made the entire sound double in volume and added so much to this already incredible show, and once again Peter was at the heart of it, so a huge thank you to them and I hope we can do that again in the future.
A show is not made with only these people mentioned above though. There’s many people that aren’t seen. There’s lighting, sound, props, costume, and stage managing to name but a few. Every one of these jobs was done to an incredibly high standard and with love for Peter. They added to what has been an immensely emotional week for me. I am very sad to think Ruddigore 2018 is over. I’m very excited though to continue my work with Hounslow Light Operatic Company and put on many further shows, some Gilbert and Sullivan and some other composers, all the while remembering Peter.
I’ll wrap up there. But thank you everyone for this week. I’ll miss it.