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You Missed Aberdeen’s Best Free Music Event

A Look at the 4th Year Music Recitals 2024


By Seby D'Souza


Image by Spitalfields_E1 on flickr License: ATTRIBUTION-SHAREALIKE 2.0 GENERIC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Between the 28th and 31st of May this year, Aberdeen university’s music department once again hosted their 4th year recitals.


Considering the non-existent entrance fee, the quality of performance is astonishing. Every performer has been playing and/ or singing for significant portions of their lives and it shows. The recitals were mostly hosted in the wondrous Kings College Chapel, with a few being in Kings Pavilion.


The 23 students were spaced over the 4 days, and categorised according to their instrument and style. For example, day one of the recitals consisted of this year’s Ogston Prize winner, Eve Begg, followed by 3 musical theatre performances — though putting them into that box feels wrong with the diversity of their sets. Standouts for day one were Chris Patrick’s gut wrenching rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, and Rachel Moir’s incredible consistency across multiple genres throughout her set.


Day 2 was my favourite of the 4 days, consisting of 7 fantastic performers. The day opened with two of the university’s finest pianists playing a range of classical and contemporary classical works. A personal highlight here is Delight Kwan’s rendition of “The Cat and The Mouse” by Aaron Copland.

The piece was chaotic from start to finish, an energy only matched by the visual performance Kwan gave alongside it.

The second half of the day, however, was the money maker. 5 incredible jazz musicians ran the pavilion. One massive strength of this group of musicians was the accessibility of their setlists. From country hit “Tennessee Whiskey” (Chloe Watt, voice) to the comical “Pennies from Heaven” (Alastair Eddie, voice) to the main theme from Monsters Inc. (Jamie Moat, guitar), these 5 performances cast the net of jazz wide for all to enjoy. As my genre of preference, I’d be remiss to not acknowledge my own bias, but I do genuinely believe this to be one of the strongest parts of the recitals.


Moving on to day 3, we open with a bang. Literally. The day started with percussionists Abaigh McMenaman and Euan Wilson in Kings Chapel, both of whom bring something fresh to the trained and untrained ear alike. McMenaman’s piece “Monkey Chant” used a modified drum kit to fill the chapel with a lion’s roar and bombs exploding. In stark contrast, Wilson played “Meditation No. 2”, a piece for a single snare drum which utilises a wide array of extended techniques to have the audience on the edge of their seats. Wilson’s set was one of the strongest of the recitals I had the pleasure of watching.


Following the percussionists were three classical instrumentalists. While classical isn’t my personal preference, I can certainly appreciate the hard work these musicians put in to get their pieces to the quality that they reached. Cellist Kirsten Petrie stood out here, not only being the only classical string player, but the only performer to drastically change accompaniment mid recital. Petrie opened accompanied by a string quartet before switching to piano accompaniment for her second and third pieces. The second piece, Beethoven’s variations on Pamina and Papageno’s duet from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, was a lot of fun, and you could see that in Petrie’s playing. A great show of musicality.


Image by Oli on flickr. License: ATTRIBUTION-NONCOMMERCIAL-NODERIVS 2.0 GENERIC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Finally we have day 4, which graced us with two clarinet performances, four sopranos, and one baritone singer. When two or more performers playing the same instrument follow each other, it can be easy to compare and look at one less favourably because of it. That, however, was not the case with Anna Flugel and Meganne McCartney.

Both played with a dialectical quality that made for a great easy-listening experience.

Flugel’s rendition of Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet was more than worthy of note. The piece ventures from tranquillity to chaos with such eloquence and perfectly captures Flugel’s ability to play with class, energy and grit. McCartney followed this with qualities to match. She played with a confidence and attitude that gave her an incredible stage presence. The expression in McCartney’s playing was an awesome feat and held consistent throughout her set.


We finish out the recitals with a run of 5 classically trained singers. While I strived to see as many recitals as I could, 5 consecutive operatic singers proved too much for me. Of those that I did see, Matthew Hamilton gave a show to remember. Entering the venue in costume, he excelled in making his set a performance, not just a recital. Singing in 4 different languages, Hamilton really showed off what Aberdeen university has to offer.


One article really isn’t enough to do this year's recitals justice, so if you get the chance to see next year's recitals, do yourself a favour and check them out.

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