King’s Lynn Festival hosts Radio 2 concert

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Friday Night Is Music Night – BBC Concert Orchestra and Guests

King’s Lynn Corn Exchange

For those of us who don’t like Mondays, King’s Lynn Festival brought the weekend five days early with a recording of BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night.

The spectacular evening was entitled The Magic of the Musicals and took a whirlwind tour of the genre, along with one or two more less well known ones.

After genial host Ken Bruce had made the introductions, the 60-strong orchestra began the evening with a spirited rendition of Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy before Michael Dore came on to set the standard with a great performance of I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Follies. Ria Jones then sang a beautiful version of As If We Never Said Goodbye from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Boulevard before Geronimo Rauch, who is currently playing the lead role in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End, sang Stars from Les Miserables.

He returned to sing the Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera and not surprisingly this was one of the highlights of the night. A bravura performance. Not to be outdone, Ria Jones’ rendition of Don’t Rain On My Parade by Funny Girl was marvellous.

In the second half, two songs from Chess, written by Benny and Bjorn of Abba, were marvellously performed, Anthem by Geronimo Rauch and then You and I by Michael Dore and Ria Jones in duet.

Other highlights included a moving Don’t Cry for Me Argentina by Ria Jones and a storming Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar by Geronimo Rauch.

It was also good to hear Michale Dore sing a tribute medley to Anthony Newley – a great talent and with Leslie Bricusse one half of a brilliant songwriting team.

Friday Night Is Music Night has been going since 1953, which is almost as long as the Lynn Festival itself. It may have a slightly old-fashioned air about it but with a simple formula of great music, sung by brilliant singers and with a top-class orchestra playing superb arrangements, what’s to change?

As Ken Bruce pointed out, some have been debating the value of the BBC recently but this type of de luxe performance was proof of what the licence fee can buy, including a grand piano in the middle of the stage and five percussionists.

Certainly the packed audience at the Corn Exchange (which due to the large orchestra was some 250 seats short at the front) all seemed delighted to have been at a memorable evening. A real highlight of the festival which will be broadcast tonight at 8pm on Radio 2, complete with festival chairwoman Alison Croose giving an interval potted history of the festival. Listen and enjoy.

Mark Leslie