On Thursday evening, 10th of March, the School of Music at the University of Leeds turned blue for the wonderful colour-themed concert Rhapsodies in Blue. Just by entering the concert hall you could get a taste of what the event was all about as blue light and blue flower arrangements were welcoming you.

The concert started with a performance of the choral piece The Blue Bird by the School of Music Project Choir, directed by Clive McClelland, that created a magical mood. Following the choral piece was a selection of ‘Blue Poetry’, a vocal performance of Haydn´s Mermaid´s Song and Schumann´s Mondnacht, to name only a few. Whilst the first half mainly consisted of classical pieces, the second half became more jazzy as the full album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis was performed. In all acts you could really see how the concept of blue worked out very well. All the performances were in some way related to the colour, not only as part of the title but making reference to a river, the sea, the rain and the sky, and so on. Moreover, all the musicians were students and all performed with professionalism and devotion.

As well as the ‘blue’ music, the atmosphere also supported the theme. A great surprise were the refreshments, blueberry muffins and blue drinks during the interval. The colour was omnipresent. Everything was well-matched and contributed to a very special evening. The topic offered the great opportunity to listen to a huge variety of different styles of music. If you were more into Jazz music, you could also enjoy the classical part and vice-versa.

Words and photos: Nadine Roithmaier


Lippy were also lucky enough to scoop an interview with Sophia Allef, Event Organiser. Read below for a deeper insight into the show:

Sophia, how was the evening for you personally?

To be honest, I felt quite under pressure and I was thinking of all the things I had to bear in mind, like “do the artists feel alright, is everyone in their place, is everything sorted, the refreshments, the decorations, all the small bits as well?”

I´m lucky to say that I had lovely volunteers, who really helped me in getting everything done, otherwise it would not have been possible.

What do you think about the whole evening, the concert, and the performances? Did everything go well?

Everything went really well. I´m so pleased to say that everyone did a wonderful and amazing job. We had such talented musicians who all contributed with their own personalities, own musical styles and their pieces. We had a great variety in music in the programme which was one of my main intensions. So, I’m pleased to say that it went very well, no accidents, well, nearly none. There was one moment when the piano moved a bit away from the performer because it wasn’t locked properly! So the pianist had to start again. In fact it was an icebreaker as she had contact with the audience, and everyone laughed. It was a good thing to happen, actually.

Was the evening as you expected it to be like when you first started planning the concert?

Yes, kind of. Of course there are always little things you’d wish to be included and there’s always room for improvement. Like in the first half I didn’t have a string quartet which I would have loved, but on the other side I didn’t expect to have the full album of Miles Davis played which is rather rare and I really loved and appreciated that.

How was the cooperation with the artists?

Some of them I already knew from courses we have together, some were new to me, which was really nice, too. At the beginning of the semester, I wrote an email asking performers of the School of Music for contribution. It was really great that performers approached me and volunteered their support. Many of them I had never met before even though we were in the same school. There was one musician who came to me and said she knew a song related to the sea, and wished to play it in the concert. I’m so happy and grateful for this openness and great support from all of them.

Another aspect I really liked was that the artists appreciated each other’s work. What I have experienced so far was that there has always been a kind of separation between jazz musicians and people who study ‘classical’ music instruments; they want to stay in their own circle. So, I loved the one moment behind the stage when I heard one of the Jazz musicians saying that he really enjoyed the Debussy piece. And the piano player said he’d love to stay for the performance of Kind of Blue.

Are you planning more future concerts like this one?

Generally, I’m really keen on giving concerts a specific theme. In this hectic and complicated time I find it easier to address people by creating a certain topic they could relate to and that can give them an easier access to music as well. I actually started thinking about a red-themed concert. But I have to be honest, it was meant to be a single event as the final project of my Music and Management Masters.

What about your future plans? What are you going to do after your degree?

I’m really looking forward to going back to Germany to be honest. I would like to settle down there, in my home country. There are a big amount of cultural and orchestral institutions and I hope to work for a classical music festival. I really enjoy working behind the scenes, conceptualizing events and creating marketing strategies to get people engaged with music in use of different approaches to it.

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