Tag Archives: Matthew Ford

REVIEW: John Wilson Orchestra – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein and the MGM, golden era of Hollywood movie musicals have all been celebrated over the years by the wonderful John Wilson Orchestra. The lost scores recreated note by note and bar by bar by the supremely talented Wilson. This year, the spotlight turns on George and Ira Gershwin.

From a vast back-catalogue of hits, Wilson presents a broad spectrum of the composer’s work; some pieces recognised from the first few notes to some lesser-known gems, and a perfect balance of orchestral pieces and vocal numbers.

The hand-picked orchestra as always, are in the finest of form, getting the evening off to the best of starts with the overture from the 1945 biopic Rhapsody in Blue. Featuring West End leading lady Louise Dearman and John Wilson Orchestra veteran and big band star Matt Ford, there’s not a weak link anywhere. The playful chemistry between Dearman and Ford is a delight to watch and the playing and singing a joy to the ear. Vocal highlights include Dearman’s Someone to Watch Over Me and The Man I Love, and Ford’s S’Wonderful  (with the most spectacular whistling I’ve ever heard) and They Can’t Take That Away From Me.

It seems like a disservice to mention so little of the evening, but quite simply, this is as close to a perfect evening’s entertainment as you are likely to get. Sheer class.

John Wilson’s DVD celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra is on sale now.

REVIEW: John Wilson Orchestra Cole Porter in Hollywood – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Yes, dear readers it’s that time of year when I profess my undying love for John Wilson and his outstanding orchestra. Following on the heels of this summer’s Kiss Me Kate Prom (which incidentally will be broadcast this Christmas on BBC) and last year’s Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies, Wilson has turned his attention to the great Cole Porter on the 50th anniversary of the musical genius’ death.

Wilson has eschewed an evening of out and out familiar tunes, instead he has interspersed the big hitters like “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Your the Top” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” with lesser known numbers such as “Love of my Life”, “The Physician” and “Please Don’t Monkey with Broadway” and provides a broad representation of Porter.

The quality of the playing is of the highest order and the sheer joy on the faces of the musicians transmits itself to the capacity audience. The programme is beautifully enhanced by regular singers Matt Ford and Anna Jane Casey who take on the jazzier numbers and newcomers to the John Wilson Orchestra: Scarlett Strallen and Richard Morrison. Strallen and Morrison are particularly stunning in the more demanding numbers and Strallen shines in the rib-tickling “The Physician”.

It remains to be seen what’s next for the John Wilson Orchestra but I personally can’t wait to see what it is.

REVIEW: John Wilson Orchestra – The Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

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Nothing heralds the start of the Christmas season more vividly for me than the annual trip to see the John Wilson Orchestra. It’s not the cries of “It’s Christmas” blasting from every supermarket speaker or the switching on of the lights in George Square, but the sound of the orchestra tuning up and those spine-tingling first notes ringing out around the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

This year’s concert That’s Entertainment is a return to the 2009 Prom which took Wilson from respected conductor to worldwide sensation. Eschewing the big names (Seth MacFarlane, Curtis Steigers, Julian Ovenden and Sir Thomas Allen, to name a few) that have peppered previous concerts, he sticks with stalwarts Matthew Ford and Anna-Jane Casey, a pair of sublimely talented singers. Ford, with his magnificently evocative voice brings the era of the Hollywood crooner masterfully back to life and Casey, a gifted actress as well as singer, with the ability and stunning vocal skills to transport you right back to the golden days of the MGM musical.

This perfectly judged and perfectly polished programme opens with the magnificent MGM Jubilee Overture and the skill and talent of the performers and Wilson’s fastidious attention to every detail of this music, shines through from the opening note.

The concert cracks on at a blistering pace, played with exuberance and verve by the breathtakingly talented musicians, from familiar classics such as: “The Lady is a Tramp”, “You Made Me Love You”  and “A Couple of Swells” to lesser known gems: “Thanks a Lot But No Thanks” from It’s Always Fair Weather and the little heard score from Silk Stockings, each piece is beautifully executed and designed to delight the audience, an audience I might add who remained entranced throughout each song and moved to rousing applause at each’s conclusion. Most heartening to see was the age range of the sell-out audience, from little children right through to those able to remember this music in its glorious hey-day, through the talent and skill of Wilson and his orchestra these glorious musical classics live on and boy is this audience thankful that it has.

Of the 200 or so shows that I review each year for work, this is one of the few that I look forward to from the moment it’s announced and unlike much of what I see it never disappoints, a pure pleasure and an unalloyed triumph every time. Spirited, soaring, sparkling, sure-footed, sumptuous, vivid, vibrant, witty, well-judged, thrilling and triumphant. Sheer perfection!