Collaboration the Key in Core Celebration

Saturday night saw Queen’s Hall packed to the rafters as Hexham’s Core Music celebrated nine years of bringing music to our community with a wonderful showcase concert.

The theme of the night was collaboration, with many of the groups working together in creative ways to add something special to their performances. The first act showed this to full effect, with the House Band of tutors, volunteers and ex-students of Core Music joining forces with female vocal group EnCore for a truly energising rendition of the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Listen to the Music”, which was the perfect rallying call for the audience.


Core Music’s long-standing resident ukulele group The Uketeers continued the evening with their entertaining set of singalong standards, followed by a change in mood from Jubilate with two beautiful, classic songs. We then had a real treat with a performance from TYGER (Tynedale Youth Guitar Ensemble… Reborn!), featuring Martin Eastwell and his young classical guitar students playing two lovely arrangements of songs from The Jungle Book – how apt for TYGER!


The first half concluded with a vibrant performance from Hexham Bluegrass, filling the air with the distinctively American combination of banjo, mandolin, harmonica and washboard. EnCore graced the stage again to add beautifully tight and sensitive vocal harmonies to Hexham Bluegrass for the spiritual “Down to the River to Pray”.


The second half began with twenty minutes of stirring, high-quality jazz from Tyne Valley Jazz Ensemble and Tyne Valley Youth Big Band, the fruits of the hard work of local trumpeter and bandleader Dave Hignett. The bands featured some fantastic soloists and several young musicians performing for the first time in public – what a fantastic venue for a debut!


Ukuleles returned to the stage with another collaboration, this time Ian K Brown’s Young Ukes joining forces with his adult uke group to show that age is no barrier to enjoying making music together.


EnCore returned to the stage for their own short set, featuring a fantastic a cappella arrangement of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”, before being joined for another collaborative performance. This time, House Band guitarist Dan Coggins led his adult guitar club while EnCore provided the vocals for a touching performance of the Beatles’ “Let It Be”.


The House Band provided the backbone for the end of the show, starting with two world premieres! The first was a gorgeous, organ-driven, country-tinged song, “Rocky Roman Roads”, written by local James Hall on a Core Music songwriting course earlier in the year and arranged by the House Band.


The second world premiere was a special composition by local jazz duo SubWoofer – Noah McNeill (keyboards) and Dom Kilsby (drums) – plus friends from the House Band along with brass and wind players we’d seen earlier in the evening. With several themes and jazz styles explored, this was a real tour de force of composition and performance, culminating in Noah’s blistering synthesizer solo.


The grand finale saw about 100 performers crowding on to the stage to join Barbara Hignett and the House Band for Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”, a wonderful song of both celebration and defiance in the face of adversity which really brought the house down. There were smiling faces on the sell-out crowd as they left another fantastic night showcasing the incredible musical talent and enthusiasm that comes of Core Music and our community. We can’t wait to see what the tenth anniversary celebration concert will bring!

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