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Review: UCL Live Music presents Rhapsody 2019

Alex Anoja and Margot Antignac write about a night filled with strong performances and anthems.

Following last year’s success, the UCL Live Music Society has returned to present Rhapsody 2019 at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Put on annually by UCL Live Music Society to showcase innovative and creative musical performances, it is a large-scale production and this year alone included approximately 100 musicians. So, it is certainly worth applauding directors Caycee Peskett-Hill and D’arcy Mcguinness on the tremendous effort that went into co-ordinating the versatile performances.

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The first performance of the night was a cover of 'Titanium', exhibiting lead vocalist Ahilya Murkunde’s strong vocals. The last performance was a medley of Queen’s most iconic songs, featuring a group of energetic musicians. As a result of this diversity of music genres, the show appeals to virtually everyone. From pop songs with delightfully surprising twists such as the 'Boyfriend X New Rules' mashup to original songs during the interval to the 'Black Sabbath medley', Rhapsody worked hard to promote variety across its performances. Original concepts such as playing Britney’s 'Toxic' on four string instruments maintained a humorous and delightful ambience for the evening.

Every single member of this production should be proud of their contribution towards Rhapsody and their success in entertaining audience members. Whilst the vocalists did a splendid job in singing in front of such a large audience, the instrumentalists also carried much of the momentum, with their vast talents. Special mentions go to Olivia Millar's great job on the drums, but Chris Thomas in 'Madness' and 'Writing’s On The Wall' also shone with a pitch-perfect and breath-taking performance. Another particular talent came from Varun Vassanth who carried out professional performances throughout.

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Rehearsing for Rhapsody: Anthea Xydas, Olivia Millar and Joe Taylor

The performers’ ability to create a suitable ambiance for each piece along with the lighting set-up and the words displayed on the screen to introduce the song during each transition set the tone. This was particularly evident during the performance of 'Survivor' medley. Lead vocalists, Alice Signell, Ahilya Murkunde and Eunice Yeow bounced off each other well. Despite the fact that the three songs forming the medley were from very different genres, musical directors, Björn Franke and Emily Hoh and arranger, Emilia Pearce, came together to produce a coherent medley. It’s fair to say that the choreography in this performance was probably the best throughout the show.

It’s also difficult to forget the anthems that rallied the audience into joining in. With iconic songs such as 'The Final Countdown', it would be easy for the performers to put on a subdued set and let the music itself carry the performance. However, this was not the case as these songs stood out the most and were unforgettable. The drummers and guitarists performing pieces in the rock genre, such as the Black Sabbath Medley did these legendary musicians justice as they seemed to be enjoying every moment of their time on stage, fully indulging themselves in their music. Another favourite amongst the audience was the arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s 'Don’t U Worry ‘Bout A Thing' with a Cuban twist, in which all instrumentalists as well as vocalist exposed their vast talents.

Ultimately, Rhapsody's 2019 iteration once again managed to bring together gifted musicians and give us an entertaining night.

Rating: ★★★★½