Michael Ball heads up an evening of Gershwin at Live by the Lake
A beautiful end to a sunny weekend, Sunday’s Live by The Lake at Kenwood House was a scenic day out for families from all around Highgate, Hampstead and further afield. The small stage set in an opening of oak trees, with Kenwood House as the backdrop, was already full well before the performance had started.
The concert itself, An Evening with Gershwin, was a celebration of the works of George Gershwin, American composer and pianist, known best for his composition Rhapsody in Blue. Alongside the star performer, Michael Ball, were singers Kerry Ellis, David Bardsley, and Gina Beck, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Jae Alexander.
The concert began as a warm-up to Ball, with Alexander acting as both conductor and emcee, welcoming and introducing the new singers onto the stage. Alexander was clearly the true expert of the concert: while his lessons on Gershwin were extensive during the breaks, his enthusiasm for both conducting the wonderful pieces and explaining them was admirable.
Walking the Dog was a particularly pleasant piece performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, showcasing the best of the clarinets and violins.
A further notable guest star to join the orchestra was pianist Viv McLean whose version of Rhapsody in Blue conjured dreams of tapping away on typewriters in New York City newspaper offices. McLean’s skill was mesmerising for the full 16 minutes of the composition.
While Ball was set to be the special guest star of the concert, his performance was limited and patchy at best. He arrived shortly before the interval, announced as the special guest star, and the audience cheered for the first time (despite the superb orchestral performances preceding him). But he left the stage quickly, featuring only intermittingly through the remainder of the concert, while the other singers returned to perform more Gershwin classics.
Ball’s version of S’ Wonderful was the star piece of his performance, where a mostly older crowd swayed and cheered. The singer responded by adding a “tap break” on the slightly crowded orchestral stage, before announcing he wished he had a staircase to come down and more room to dance. While he tried to please the crowd, his late and short performance was anti-climatic after the amazing build-up created by Alexander and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
For further information and future events visit Michael Ball’s website here.
Watch the video for The Perfect Song here: