Inventive, spellbinding and full of surprises
Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts: Vocalosity
Friday, January 13 at Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts
The ten-strong energy-packed, virtuosic ensemble of young a cappella musicians who make up Vocalosity drew quite a crowd for the first concert in the 2017 Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts line-up.
Vocal percussionist Tracy Robertson kicked off the show, giving us a taste of his astonishing virtual drum kit — which includes hi-hat, brushes, bass, cowbell and snare — before leading us into Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.
For two hours Vocalosity held us spellbound, their performances packed with panache and beautifully choreographed by Seán Curran.
The musical arrangements by Deke Sharon, founder, producer, music director and arranger of Vocalosity, were full of inventive twists and delightful surprises.
There was a Gregorian chant version of the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, and a virtual swing band with trumpets and trombones to back Louis Prima’s 1935 Sing, Sing, Sing.
There was a hilarious satire on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, with the lead Maria thinking she had the lead Maria in West Side Story.
The result was the song, I don’t know the words to the Sound of Music.
A Motown compilation was summed up as “Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. The end.”
It had us all laughing with delight as we struggled to sort out which words belonged where.
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, Bruno Mars’s Uptown Funk and Mark Ronson’s Shut up and Dance rounded out the more contemporary selections.
We got to find out a bit more about some of the performers: Nattalyee Randall, Cheeyang Ng and Nicole Weiss all talked about the personal and social obstacles they had overcome.
Cheeyang Ng drew on the pain he felt growing up gay in ultra-conservative Singapore for his performance of Lady Gaga’s Born that Way.
The evening ended, fittingly, with a standing ovation. The audience was rewarded with a moving arrangement of Cold Play’s tender and profound Fix You, with the cast doffing their mikes and singing to us unamplified.
For the full list of Festival shows, visit: bermudafestival.org.
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