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An evening with BUMS

Backdropped by the purple lights of St. George's Bristol, a concert hall converted from a two-hundred-year-old Georgian church in the 1990s, Bristol University Music Society (BUMS) returned for their biggest event of the year, showcasing widespread talent across student-led music.

By Megan Foulk, Second Year English

Beginning a night of impressive repertoire with C. Hubert H. Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’, the society’s Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir made a majestic entrance, maximising the acoustics of a venue LSO conductor Simon Rattle famously claimed has, ‘the best acoustic for chamber music in Europe’. Confidently conducted by final year music student Sam Kail-Dyke, previously a conductor of both the university’s Brass Band and the Medic’s Orchestra, andMusical Director for numerous student productions, the ensemble appeared calm and collected on stage, visibly enjoying theperformance. A rich exploration of harmony and complex counterpoint, Parry’s setting of John Milton’s ode At a solemn Musick was an appropriate teaser for music yet to come. 

A personal highlight of the evening, the night continued with Saint-Saen’s ‘Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor (Op. 33)’, performed by final year music student and winner of the BUMS ConcertoCompetition 23/24, Libby Hamilton. Awarded the Thomas Beecham prize for her first-year recital, Libby is principal cellist for the University Symphony Orchestra, playing also with the Chamber Orchestra, Baroque Ensemble and Symphonia. Unfaltering in her performance of the hugely demanding concerto, Libby’smusicianship was a joy to watch and greatly applauded by all. Perfectly balanced alongside the orchestra by conductor Sam Kail-Dyke, the convention-breaking concerto was approached with professional ease by both conductor and soloist, making for an exciting and entertaining performance. 

Closing the first half, the orchestra finished with Schubert’s ‘Symphony No.3 in D Major (D 200)’, a notably concise, yet energetic work. Broad and slow in its opening, the solo clarinet led into the ‘Allegro con brio’ alongside a skilled string section, demonstrating lively melodies and powerful chordal moments. Unrelenting in its final movement, the first half of the eveningended in a dramatic finale. 

Refreshed after a brief interval, both choir and orchestra returned on stage to tackle Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass in C Major (K.317)’, under the supervision of Chamber Choir conductor Millie Whittle. A final year music student and soprano choral scholar at Clifton Cathedral, Millie’s conducting debut was eloquent and professional. Leading SATB soloists Imogen Lock, Eve Doyle, Theo Ball and James Outtrim in one of Mozart’s most sacred pieces of choral repertoire, the room was captivated from the beginning. Transfixed particularly by soprano Imogen Lock, the soloists soared over the ensemble in an emotive performance that demonstrated immense musical talent. 

A society comprised of both music and non-music students, ‘An Evening with BUMS’ confirmed that regardless of degree choice, the University of Bristol is home to plenty of virtuosos. Whether a conductor, soloist, or member of the ensemble, BUMS maintain an impressive performance standard, dedicating significant time and effort to calendar countdown concerts like this evening at St George’s. Whilst you wait in anticipation for their return next year, catch BUMS Symphonic Winds Anniversary Concert in the Victoria Rooms at 6pm on Friday the 3rd of May. Until then, perhaps consider adding some of the above repertoire to your study playlist rotation, as you tire of ‘Cosy Coffee Piano Jazz’compilations and search for that reference you’re sure you wrote down somewhere in the library last week. 

Images courtesy of Megan Foulk

Have you seen BUMS in concert?