BGS Concert: Amanda Cook

Well , what were you doing last night? You could have been watching the telly. Or you could have been out for a meal? Or you could have been worrying about the recession?

On the other hand, you could have joined us last night for an absolutely magical evening of entertainment and high quality music at St Marks Church. The concert numbers were such that the whole evening had a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. This seemed to suit everyone (Amanda included). Apart from being a brilliant guitarist, she managed to charm the whole audience, sharing her thoughts and descriptions of the pieces she had prepared.

After a few words from our esteemed Chairman, Amanda Cook took to the stage and our musical journey commenced.

The journey started silently with an understated but evocative performance of Bogdanovic's composition, Mysterious Habitats which gradually wove a spell around the audience, instantly drawing everyone in. ( I made a mental note that the committee was not to pay Amanda until she told me where I could get a copy of the music!! Not that they listened to me.. and actually she kindly did tell me at the end of the evening!)

Once our attention was captured, Amanda took us back to the eighteenth century Spain with some fine Scarlatti Sonatas. And then we came back to the twentieth century with a performance of Brouwer's El Cameron Negro which as she explained was based on a love story from a book of African legends which Brouwer skillfully mixed African Cuban rhythms and melodies. Her interpretation with its subtle mix of light and shade was conveyed with passionate energy. It totally took our breath away.

After interval, the journey continued with a moving performance of two pieces especially composed for her by William Lovelady, The Sounds of Rain and The Morning in Omagh The Sun Rose Again (dedicated to the victims of the Omagh bombings). Both were highly intensive and complex pieces yet she delivered them so effortlessly.

Then it was off for a tour of Spanish Castles or 'Castillos de Espana', courtesy of Moreno Torroba. We had a musical tour of Alba de Tormes, Zafra, Torija and Olite. Amanda confided to us that she would love to record a performance of these pieces at each castle in Spain. But we were more than happy to hear them at St Marks (despite the unwelcome accompaniment of the church's geriatric central heating system).

The evening finished with a latin flavour, featuring Bardi's Callo Ciego and Baden Powell (no not the Scoutmaster) and Moraes Samba Em Preludio and finally a traditional latin piece Arriba Los Panuelos (arranged by Salcedo). The evening seemed to finish all to quickly!

No sound files for you (and its your own fault if you didn't come to the concert) but you can hear examples of her work by visiting her web site (

BGS Concerts don't happen by themselves. They represent the work and input by a team of fantastic volunteers prepared to give up their time to make these nights a success. So I would like to pay tribute to Shirley Russell for collating the ticket sales; Stephen Pearson for organising the program; Becky Clifford for preparing the advertising flyers and publicity; Dave and Janet Smyth for coordinating the tickets and seating; Trevor Pike for doing an outstanding job with the catering; Stephen Dowdell, and Dave Hampton for assisting with the stage construction; Jack Strivens for helping with the seating and our esteemed Master of Ceremonies- the BGS Godfather- Dapper Den Stockton! Here he is below doing his party trick to celebrate a great evening!! Even though we begged him to stop...

Despite all her hard work with the ticket sales, Shirley unfortunately couldn't attend the concert due to illness and we wish her all the best for a speedy recovery. And Shirley, we are not taking any excuses for next years concert!

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