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22nd November 2016 at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall for the Nottingham Post

After the success of last year’s tour, the John Wilson Orchestra returned to Nottingham’s Concert Hall as part of a 12 date whirlwind trip around the UK. This show, simply entitled “Music from the Movies” promises musical masterpieces from across the decades and has already received rave reviews.

 

For this tour, the unassuming but charismatic John Wilson was joined by a large hand-picked orchestra and accompanied by special guest singers Kim Criswell and Matt Ford. The Royal Concert Hall was busy and it was encouraging to see a wider range of ages in the audience this year, with a good smattering of the under 40s.

John Wilson tripped onto his podium and the orchestra dived straight into the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, which really helped to set the scene of the golden days of the Hollywood movies. This was swiftly followed by the first appearance of Kim Criswell, whose CV is as impressive as her voice, singing “I’m the Greatest Star” from the film Funny Girl and Matt Ford, who absolutely smashed “Something’s Gotta Give”.

The music travels seamlessly between rousing and melancholy, with plenty of songs which are perfectly orchestrated and melded to ensure that the evening ebbs and flows but never falters. John Wilson is cheerful and light-footed, providing exactly the right amount of information about the music, delivered in his friendly, relaxed style, which gives him an instant bond with the audience.

At the end of the first half, John informed us that we would be exclusively treated to not one but three movements from the film The Adventures of Robin Hood – because this was Nottingham after all - a decision that went down very well with the locals.

The second half kicked off with the Suite from Gone with the Wind – all 14 minutes of it, played quite superbly by this talented team of musicians. It’s plain to see that the members of the orchestra love their job and there were plenty of smiles and enthusiasm on display during the entire performance. The backdrop for the evening was plain but, who needs frills when you’ve got so much to look at on stage. Who knew that there was such a skill to playing the cymbals – I was totally transfixed.

The highlight of the evening was definitely the arrangement of Tom and Jerry, with an abundance of ‘smashing’ special effects from the wonderful Percussion Department (one of whom was from Nottingham and received special mention). This jaunty ensemble was comedic and fast-paced and the audience loved it.

The audience was teased with not one but two encores – the first included an audience singalong with Kim and Matt and, to the majority’s delight, the second was Princess Leia’s theme from Star Wars which, in my opinion, was the perfect end to a memorable evening.