The Snowman and the Snowdog with Andy Burrows and Ilan Eshkeri
Lit with flickering candles and sparking fir trees, the atmospheric Union Chapel is transformed into a mesmerising winter wonderland for Andy Burrows and Ilan Eshkeri’s live performance of The Snowman and the Snowdog, accompanied by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
Commissioned for Channel 4 last Christmas to mark the 30th anniversary of The Snowman – the festive short film based on Raymond Brigg’s classic children’s story – The Snowman and the Snowdog is a modernised sequel showing young Billy who, following in his predecessor’s footsteps, builds a snowman and a snowdog in his garden, only for them to come to life at midnight. A night of magic and wonder entails.
The pews are filled with a mixture of young and old, showing the deep nostalgia felt for the original tale and its ongoing ability to enchant and captivate the minds of children; everyone delights as a plump and cuddlesome figure of the beloved snowman waddles down the aisles.
A gleeful excitement circulates as the orchestra take to the stage, above them a giant screen framed by the chapel’s ornate arches showing the film’s wintery landscapes in flickering, sketch-book style. The effect is magical as the live orchestra, conducted by Andy Brown, guide us through the film, complemented by Burrows and Eshkeri’s band.
In this format the cartoon springs to life. Staccato violins accented with jingling bells and glorious brass give a buoyant festive feel. Flutes and chiming bells emit a yuletide magic in Building the Snowman, and energetic drums and ethereal flute glissandos vivaciously accompany the snowman’s skiing competition in Downhill Race. Light the Night – an orchestral feast of pealing brass, cascading strings, celestial bells and breathy vocal tones from Burrows – sweeps us through the dazzling panoramic views of London as Billy, the snowman and the snowdog zoom through the night sky. Finally, tender quivering violin brings us to the morose yet inevitable conclusion as Billy mourns the melted snowman, a poignant moment of fading childhood innocence and inexorable mortality.
The second half of the evening delights us with an array of festive performances including an a cappella rendition of White Christmas from Burrows, Eshkeri and friends, Elton John’s Step into Christmas played by Tom Odell, and Baby It’s Cold Outside from Burrows and Melanie C. These star performances, however, have nothing on the sheer beauty of The Snowman’s film score – a glisteningly festive and utterly magical masterpiece.
Photos: Daniela Valla
The Snowman and the Snowdog is at Union Chapel until 14th December 2013. For further information or to book visit the venue’s website here.
Watch the video for Light the Night here: