Performers to showcase noted 'jazzy, swingy' songs

ANGELA CROMPTON
Last updated 07:41 28/11/2012

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Jazz and cabaret music from the 1920s-40s will be given a 21st century swing on Saturday night at the Marlborough Vintners Hotel near Blenheim.

Music by Rodgers and Hart will largely fill the gourmet dinner show by jazz trio Robin Randall and Tony and Coral Thiel. They will be joined by three young guests, flautist Sally West studying at Victoria University, and two Marlborough Girls' College students, singer Christianna Stewart and pianist-guitarist-singer Lee Stuart.

The girls are just a few years younger than Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart were when they met at Columbia University, America, in 1919.

For the next few years, until Hart's death in 1943, the pair wrote numerous Broadway musicals and soundtracks for film, becoming the most popular songwriters of that era.

Randall teaches music at Marlborough Girls' College and he and the Thiels regularly invite college and university students to join them at live performance venues.

"At first they're [often] not quite sure of performing in public, then they relax and it's wonderful," Coral Thiel says. "But for us," she adds, "it's almost a way of life."

Christianna and Lee are making music part of their lives.

Christianna, who has just completed high school, passed her grade 8 singing examination this year and will start a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance at Victoria University next year.

Lee, one year younger, hopes to study music there in 2014.

Lee also sings and plays the piano and on Saturday she will provide the dinner-time entertainment, playing original music and Van Morrison and Nora Jones' covers.

"Creating ‘atmosphere'," Christianna says.

Lee nods. "I'll have to step up to Tony - he usually plays during the dinner."

The girls describe Rodgers and Hart's "jazzy, swingy, sometimes soulful music" as a "massive change" from what they usually play.

"When I was researching the songs I had been given, names like Nat King Cole and Ray Charles popped up," Christianna says. "They are amazing legends to get behind . . . but as Coral and Tony say, you have to make it your own; tweak it here, tweak it there."

And jazz makes that easy, she adds. Unlike when playing a classical composition, rules can be bent. "You can have a lot of fun with it!"

Lee agrees and says: "And it's really good we are doing this."

Music and the songs people sing have certainly changed over the years, Christianna says. Rodgers and Hart's With a Song in My Heart, that she will sing on Saturday for instance, is "the ultimate love song".

"You don't have that any more."

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Rodgers and Hart music by Robin, Tony & Coral, with guest artists Christianna Stewart, Sally West and Lee Stuart, will be performed during a gourmet dinner and show on Saturday at Marlborough Vintners Hotel, 190 Rapaura Rd, Blenheim. Tickets $60 include a $3 donation to Hospice Marlborough.

- The Marlborough Express

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