Two superb musicians and supreme showmen opened the Portsmouth Festivities with a memorable BANG! In an effervescent and innovative performance O Duo started with their own composition for drums, Bongo Fury, where every single part of the drums – including the stands – were fully utilised. The evening ended with a standing ovation!
In between: a varied programme of classical pieces: Soler, Mendelssohn, Chopin; jazz, Take 5 by P Desmond; minimal music: Glass, Reich, O Duo; an original composition based on earlier improvisation; and The Piece with No Name, created for and performed by students of Portsmouth Grammar School.
It was a uniquely enjoyable experience throughout with many high points, including Farewell to Stromness by Peter Maxwell Davies, where haunting, yet strangely beautiful notes on marimba and vibraphone evoked feelings of loss for this sacrificial, Orkney town; Searching where Owen and Oliver created sheer magic on six instruments: marimba, bass drum, cymbals, vibraphone, Glockenspiel and gong, creating a percussion orchestra of impressive range; Marimba Spiritual by Minoru Miki, juxtaposing evocations of Africa with drum exclamations crashing through the Cathedral’s acoustics like gunshot.
And finally, an impressive performance by 19 PGS students - of whom only one had previous experience on a percussion instrument; they played with precision and unity, clearly gaining much from the experience. In all this was a great evening of music and entertainment!