On the weekend of September 14th/15th I had the absolute pleasure of witnessing a great plethora of talent in both musicians/composers and epic vocalists.
Jonathan Reid Gealt is an American composer who came over to the UK to do these concerts at the gorgeous St. James Theatre as a debut for his new album ‘Here For You’, originally Gealt was only doing a concert on the Sunday but due to the popularity of it (and it selling out!) another concert was added on the Saturday when a slot became available. To mix things up and not have duplicate concerts, Gealt had invited two British composers to showcase their work in Saturday’s concert therefore he was joined by Craig Adams and Steven Luke Walker and the concerts were dubbed as ‘TransAtlantic’.
So, onto business! The concert on Saturday was divided up into segments for each composer (saves confusion of whose song is whose, phew!) and so it began with a short showcase of Gealt’s work as a tease for Sunday’s concert. Jennifer Tierney sang a gorgeous rendition of the catchy “I Am Yours” followed by Danielle Hope singing the mellow “All I Need”. Then Jonathan joined Matthew Barrow in singing “Wanting”, a very comical song and then the segment closed with Kelly Anne Gower singing Jonathan’s personal favourite (“Despite ‘Quiet’ being everyone else’s favourite,” he joked) which was absolutely stunning. I found it very clever for Jonathan to chose these songs to showcase his work in such a compact way as it was a brilliant mix of everything he can do, from the upbeat to comedic to ballad – it was definitely a good tease for the next evening!
In the next segment Steven Luke Walker performed his work which were pieces inspired by novels/films such as Brokeback Mountain, Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries, and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe as well as his own shows. To sing his work we had the pleasure of hearing Norman Bowman, Fra Fee, Alice Fearn, Summer Strallen, Jeremy Legat, Emilie Fleming, Conleth Kane, Sabrina Aloueche, Kane Oliver Parry, Sasi Strallen, Christina Bennington, Jordan Lee Davis, Anna McGarahan and Elissa Clare Morgan who were also accompanied by the GSA Choir. The musical numbers performed were a very ecclectic mix, played beautifully by Walker himself and sung with true characteristic which is what was so needed to accompany Walker’s music. My personal favourites from this selection would have to be Sabrina Aloueche singing “Unlike Any Other” from Walker’s new musical Blaze which was simply beautiful, Aloueche has such a strength to her voice it’s hard to not be impressed, and also I loved the song “Suddenly” inspired by the Princess Diaries, telling Mia Thermopolis’ discovery of being a princess, sung and acted greatly by Alice Fearn.
Following this, Craig Adams took to the stage to showcase songs from his shows – Battlements, Soul Music, LIFT, ShadowThief and Defect, and he was joined by Ellie Kirk, Robbie Towns, Jennifer Tierney, George Maguire, Rory Taylor and Kerry Ellis to do so! I already knew of Craig’s work being a big fan of the show LIFT which premiered at the Soho Theatre in February of this year, and quite a few of the cast members of LIFT, or those who had been involved in it, were here to perform Craig’s music which I thought was lovely – a reunion of sorts! I really enjoyed hearing some of the songs from Craig’s other shows which I haven’t heard before as they’re still in workshop phases etc, he does have a very different almost avant-garde style to his music and those singing for him complimented this style brilliantly. I absolutely love hearing Jennifer Tierney performing so to hear her singing both Jonathan’s and Craig’s work was a pleasure, but it was also lovely to hear Ellie Kirk again, whose innocent voice is sublime. Another highlight was the duet between Kerry Ellis and Rory Taylor, obviously there’s always a buzz about Kerry – and for good reason! Their duet of “If You Could Know” from Defect was seamless.
To close the evening, we returned to Jonathan’s work. For this concert, he had hosted a competition online for people to submit them singing ‘Quiet’ and if they were picked they would have the opportunity to sing at these concerts. As there would be two concerts two people would get to sing, but then Jonathan ended up picking three people and two of them performed on the Saturday. Tom Cromwell beautifully performed “Quiet” having flown all the way from Australia to do the concert, and PPA student Daniel Gregory sung “I Won’t Have to Anymore”, both fantastic singers very deserving of winning this competition. And finally we had one more duet with Jonathan and Craig Colton singing the title track of the new album “Here For You”.
Overall the evening was a huge success, literally jam packed with such incredible talent (performer count: 26 vocalists! (not including the incredible choir!)) and was well worth the ticket price that didn’t even break the bank. It was a very smooth well planned concert, and a fantastic idea to mix up the styles of music that the audience would be experiencing, there was definitely something for everyone in this night and I’m sure we all walked away with many a song stuck on repeat in our head!