An American Promenade was billed as a joyful celebration of music that has overcome the difficulties of a school closure, a return to a socially distanced environment and a slow-down in in-person events. Unfortunately. COVID-19 had other ideas and enforced yet another school closure just days before the show was to start. The disappointment felt by performers and teachers was obvious, but they didn’t let that deter them from giving our community something to start the Songkran holiday. An earlier recorded rehearsal was put together by our dedicated graphics team and posted on the Facebook page - giving viewers an insight into the work put into American Promenade.
The quality of musicianship was sublime. Director of Music, Mr David Place - himself a New York native, was delighted to open the event in his usual flamboyant style.
"It was wonderful to officially open 'An American Promenade to students, parents, staff, and special guests. We were truly fortunate to have recorded a version for our community. Our young musicians worked so hard on each piece for a very long time. It really was a beautiful show," He said, directly after the performance.
The overarching theme for the concert was 'Americana', great music by great American composers. The style was wide-ranging, featuring the more classic numbers to modern Broadway musicals, jazz all the way through to gospel. The entertainment began with a Shrewsbury Jazz/Funk ensemble put together by Head of Brass and Woodwind, Mr Paul Archibald. A first-year teacher at Shrewsbury but a veteran of the British music scene, Mr Archibald ensured the show started without a hitch.
To begin the show, the peerless Shrewsbury Music Scholars performed the trifecta of National Anthems - Great Britain, United States and Thailand. What followed was the full array of talent the School has to offer. The flourishing String Ensemble chose to spice things up with a Survivor's 80s classic, 'Eye of the Tiger'. The American Broadway was a constant theme - and no show of this kind would be complete without a Gershwin or Bernstein classic. Shrewsbury's full orchestra ensured that the brief was met by playing 'American in Paris' and 'Mambo', two of the most recognisable music pieces by the respective artists and those familiar with the stage. With so many wonderful performances, it is challenging to explore each one in detail. However, the entire group of musicians ensured Shrewsbury's reputation as a conservatory for fostering the arts was not just left intact - but strengthened.
Principal Chris Seal was effusive in his praise for everyone involved in getting American Promenade off the ground - despite all of the difficulties the music department and administration staff faced during the process.
"The wonder of the exploration of diversity runs through the [Music] programme, but also through our community. An American Promenade came together swiftly and showed the flexibility and sure-mindedness that we are known for. Performances such as this represent an incredible amount of hard work and brilliance on the part of staff and students and our wonderful parents," he enthused.
The fireworks were kept in storage for at least a while longer, but this did not detract from the show. In these times, the effort to complete a performance against all odds is an achievement in itself. Take time to watch the professionalism and creativity Shrewsbury Music is well-known.