By Aaron Hurst – News Editor
On the 12th December, the university’s Big Band society put on a festive performance for students, family and friends in room B01.
The performance, which saw the performers all looking quite Christmassy wearing Santa, elf and turkey hats and being surrounded by tinsel and lights, included big band renditions of well-known jazz, funk and pop songs, as well as some festive tunes in the second half, following an intermission.
In the first half, amongst some prominent jazz songs such as Blues in Hoss Flat, The Jazz Police and Cute were covers of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, and Feelin’ Good, originally by Nina Simone.
The second half was purely made up of Christmas classics such as Let It Snow and Silent Night, the latter of which was beforehand described by conductor Duncan Fraser as ‘contradictory’ to the expression of silence that the original rendition provides.
According to conductor Duncan Fraser and the society’s secretary Daniel Akinbosede (otherwise known as ‘The Cowbell Kid’ to his bandmates), the band, which consisted of a mixture of students and ex-professors, had been rehearsing every Monday since the beginning of this semester not only for the Christmas concert, but also for other gigs around the university.
“We did a gig for the Pole and Aerial society, they were having a showcase” Daniel explained.
“They had a few societies, featuring the Ukulele society and ourselves.
“We played a 35 minute long set at the Attic, it was quite good.”
However, Duncan said that rehearsals of ‘the Christmas stuff’ come ‘a little bit later, sort of November time, three or four weeks before the concert’.
When asked about whether the band had any challenges that they had to overcome in the lead-up to the concert on the 12th December, Duncan explained that the band had ‘a very mixed ability group’.
“There’s no performance course, as such, in the music department. There are some very talented music students, but equally we’ve got some older members, ex-professors and ex-students at various stages of their musical development.”
“I suppose another challenge is that every year, we have people who have been with us for three or four years who graduate, and we’re back to our bare bones again and have to rebuild, and that was especially true this year.” society secretary Daniel added.
In addition, for the benefit of anyone who may not know what ‘big band’ music is, Duncan was keen to explain.
“A big band is a jazz orchestra, so it’s a collection of horns, brass and reeds, which make up the majority of the band, as well as having a rhythm section, drums, bass, piano, guitar.
“They’re all combine together to play lots of different forms of music.”
It was clear that everyone who attended the Big Band society’s Christmas concert left feeling very entertained, festive and, in the case of family members, very proud of their loved ones, and the band themselves certainly seemed like they enjoyed themselves, too.