Craig Barbour Award 2012

Since blogging has taken a somewhat minor major backseat I thought I’d start it all off again by talking about The Craig Barbour Award for Composition which was produced by Michael Peavoy Productions on Sunday 13th May at the Soho Theatre.”

“Craig Barbour was a well-loved singing teacher at RADA before he lost his life in February 2009. His passion for Musical Theatre and his students was unrivalled and his knowledge of repertoire was astonishing. His students have graced some of the finest stages in the country and his memory will live on through their incredible work”

These words, taken from The Soho Theatre’s website were echoed by host of the evening, West End Leg-end Shona White, who kept the concert ticking over nicely (a few album plugs here and there lightened the mood.) There was something very special about what the evening had in store for us all in terms of starting a new (and indeed continuing a well established) legacy for Craig and Mike Peavoy.

I was majorly impressed with Mike and his team – from being introduced to the project, being picked to be in the final and the running of the awards itself, was fantastic: no job too big or too small. This isn’t even mentioning the work that had gone into producing three (3!) new workshop performances of new works by Dougal Irvine, Conor Mitchell and Craig Adams straight after the awards.

And so to the award itself. A most handsome bass clef on a white plinth (love that word) rested on the grand piano for the evening until it was raised by

No, not a typo but you’ve got to read this to find out! Ha!

The finalists were Dougal Irvine, Tim Sutton, Eamonn O’Dyer, Gwyneth Herbert, Craig Adams, Monika Sik Holm, Christopher Hamilton, Pippa Cleary and Jake Brunger, Harry Blake and me and Amy.

It would be unfair to single any song out, so I’m going to. 😀

Both Simple (performed with heartbreaking innocence by Jeremy Legat) and Having a Baby (comedy accent and brilliant timing from Katie Bernstein) were excellent and truly gave Dougal a platform to show have versatile a writer he is.

Eamonn O’Dyer was a new name to me and I Could Promise You (Verity Quade providing a beautiful vocal to this song supported by Pippa Duffy and Lydia Jenkins) was just stunning. The narrative of the song was clear and simple; don’t make promises you can’t keep. O’Dyer is certainly a writer I will be following closely in the future.

As competitions go – and this had a trophy, £1000 and a ‘Night With’ at the Soho Theatre – this was a competition and I had researched the other writers. Sometimes as a new writer you can feel the market saturation you have willingly thrown yourself into … and then feel totally alone as though no one can or wants to hear you. So this was a perfect opportunity to find out who was out there.

I had the pleasure of appearing with and alongside Pippa Cleary and Jake Brunger at Simon Grieff‘s ‘Easter with the Composers’ in April and was blown away even then. They have recently been commissioned to write The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4’s and My Most Love was an extract from this. But in the truest sense. Both me and Amy thought we were watching the production and its performers didn’t disappoint (Leon Kay, Adam Barlow, Daniel Cane, Naomi Petersen, Katie Birtill, Jake Brunger and Lydia Jenkins).

And the winner?

Harry Blake. What a breath of fresh air. This guy clearly played from a classical training background but had subtle hints of the Sondheim magic of weaving melodies into complex piano accompaniment. The Truth Is … made us all laugh and the simple joy of placing a macabre theme into a jazzy setting (lost my theasaurus) was genius. Traditional Moral Values has to be heard to be believed. It has something for everyone (to get comically offended by) and really didn’t play it safe. It was a gamble that paid off and the judges made the right call in crowning Harry.

My penultimate word is a vote of thanks to our judges Mark Shenton, Kerry Ellis, Steve Marmion, Dee Cannon and Andy Barnes and Wendy Barnes from Perfect Pitch. Thank you for supporting us as we try and make our original voices heard in a cacophony of producer-heavy-celebrity-casting world we are slipping into. Your faith in us is a source of hope.

Finally, thank you to Mike Peavoy. A vision, a drive and a passion to match that of Simon Grieff, Perfect Pitch and MMD. He is well placed to cause his #Revolution and we are honoured to have been able to play our part in it all.

This was fun – we should do it again sometime.

Chris x