Preview: Music for Madagascar


This Saturday, St. Hilda’s Jacqueline du Pré building will be hosting a charity concert that any Oxonian with a spare moment should attend. Combining the talents of the entire established Oxford jazz and funk scene, the concert will feature The Oxford Gargoyles, The New Men and Dot’s Funk Odyssey (DFO).

What can you expect, musically? The Gargoyles most recently advanced to the grand finals of the BBC’s Choir of the Year competition, which comes at no surprise given the group’s high energy, innovative a cappella has been a staple of the European scene since the late 1990s. The Gargoyles might be at their strongest when performing standards from the American songbook, from which they will undoubtedly draw upon, having partly built its fame with intricate 5-6 part arrangements of ‘How High the Moon’ and Glenn Miller’s swing classic ‘In the Mood’. The power of the Gargoyles’ music, however, lies in its effortless groove, infectious joy and tireless versatility. A cheeky jazz interpretation of the ‘Magnificat’ is easily juxtaposed with a hymn-like rendition of Billy Joel’s ballad ‘And So It Goes’.

The New Men are the only Oxford a cappella group that trumps The Oxford Gargoyles in pure musicianship. The ensemble of New College choral scholars is set to become a new a cappella powerhouse as they deepen their commitment to live performances. The group has a rare ability to introduce lush harmony to even the most mundane of compositions. Boasting a former Out of the Blue member, George Robarts, The New Men have turned their attention to poppy tunes that cannot fail to put a smile on your face. As Sasha Ockenden, a fourth year who has also sung with The Gargoyles admits, “the repertoire is a way for classical musicians to release their inner pop goddess.” For Saturday, be on the look-out for Tom Lowen’s bass solo on ‘What a Wonderful World’ and a fun rendition of Fountain of Wayne’s ‘Stacy’s Mom’.

Finally, Dot Funk’s Odyssey promise to brighten up your day with the best funk and soul in Oxford. If you were fortunate enough to see them break the house down in Cellar recently, you might want to enjoy this opportunity to see them without the byproducts of sweatiness and claustrophobia. With strong vocalists—Selali Fiamanya will steal you heart—and impeccable instrumental arrangements, DFO will give you your much-needed fix of happy music.

And the best part? Your £5 ticket will go straight towards saving lives in Madagascar. Doctors for Madagascar (DFM), founded in 2011 by a group of German doctors, sends doctors and equipment to the south of Madagascar, where the only surgical hospital in an area of about a million people is in dire need of funds. A life-saving surgery in terms of essential equipment and medication is approximately £50: there may have never been a better reason to jazz up your Saturday.


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