Though traditionally a slightly informal musical event, the Brockwood Park Concerts have, over the years, developed into full-blown, ‘revue’ style shows, weaving together dance, music and drama around a guiding theme or story. These shows often result from a miraculous tour de force which involve getting around an extremely busy end of term schedule, an Assembly Hall that continues to display no wish to be transformed into a theatre, fuses that invariably blow and amplifiers that wisely pick their moment to give up the ghost, incredibly limited time and, most importantly, a set of super-enthusiastic, talented and creative students that – for reasons known only to teenagers – tend to leave any serious rehearsal, practice and line learning to forty five minutes before the show. Nonetheless, as I have often been told, the result can be magical and deeply inspiring.
There is so much more to putting together a concert than rehearsing, however. As is mentioned above, our dear old Assembly Hall must be given a pretty thorough make over, and the build up to this year’s Tale of the Overcoat was no exception to this. Everything, from putting up and operating lights, building sound systems and assembling a stage, to hanging stage curtains, creating sets and costumes, designing invites, programmes and posters – everything is put into motion by students. The total transformation of the Assembly Hall is a feat that rivals the concert itself in terms of its demand for hard work and creativity, and it is always a pleasure for me to see students working tirelessly and around the clock to solve technical problems and improve what they are working on. Again, the result is usually excellent, completely workable and often very ingenious. Only once, a few years ago, did I encounter a light cable that had been put together from a combination of ‘blue tak’, plastic bags and barbwire lovingly melted together by a soldering iron. Although I was given ample assurance by the student responsible for this that the cable would be fully functional, it did seem wise to ask – while much applauding the said student’s creative problem-solving – that the cable be replaced with more conventional equipment.
The Tale of the Overcoat, this year’s concert, was inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s famous short story. Again the concert brought together musical material worked on in various classes, or resulting from the creative encounter of various musicians in the school, staff and student alike. The dance class also contributed a searching and soulful piece, and several drama students brought the Gogol’s story to life by weaving it around music ranging from Debussy, Duke Ellington and Joni Mitchell to traditional Russian, American and South African songs. The ‘Brockwood Choir’ also made a welcome return, performing some timeless Brockwood classics with joy and gusto. The overall result was, if a little rushed – there was so little time to put it together – beautiful and inspirational. It certainly is a joy to me to be working with such creative young spirits, and I do hope that Brockwood Park Concerts will continue to amuse, inspire and move generations of adoring neighbours, parents and friend of the school for a great long time yet. Here’s to seeing you all at the next one!
Valentin Gerlier, Staff from Italy