The trailer for my tour of Wonderland is finally out! Check out the YouTube video below. After twelve weeks, the show is still just as much fun to play – here's to the next eighteen!
2017 is easy. For two thirds of it, I have one job. Of course, I’ll still be doing everything else that I normally do, but until August, my time will largely be spent touring the UK and Ireland with Frank Wildhorn’s new musical Wonderland. Starring British musical theatre’s current queen of the stage Kerry Ellis, it will be the UK and European premiere of this musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
Wonderland is my second tour to date, and much longer than my first one a couple of years ago. I’m very excited to be performing music by such a well-known composer as Frank Wildhorn, and it truly is a great score for both orchestra and audience. We’ll be coming to a theatre near you with venues including Edinburgh, York, Bromley, Belfast, Manchester, Wimbledon, Bristol, Liverpool, Dublin, Glasgow and Richmond.
20 Jan – 19 Aug 2017
November this year is ending with something new for me. Although I love to dabble in pop music, my playing it is generally limited to function bands. All this is changing for the end of this month, however, when the young and promising pop artist Lily Atkinson is taking to the stage of the St James Studio for two nights only. Yes, the venue is comfortably close to the musical theatre world which I know and trust, and ok, the MD and reed player I know exclusively from MT circles, but the music itself is firmly RnB.
It’s an excitingly large affair for such a small stage, with a 6-piece band and 2 dancers to back Lily. We’ve been rehearsing since the beginning of the month, which will hopefully pay off as there promise to be some famous faces in the audience. Lily, on top of her singing and dancing, is a promising young songwriter; most of the numbers in her upcoming show are her own creations.
The keenest of my followers may be aware that I am an occasional singer. Despite being brought up on musical theatre, I made a definite, potentially deliberate move to the classical side of things when I started at Wells Cathedral School at 16. I stuck at it for the following six years, and it wasn’t until the end of my time at Guildhall that I found myself branching out again.
This return to treading the boards is beginning with an industry showcase at the London Theatre Workshop’s new home in Leadenhall Market, where I will be performing a couple of songs from Ray Rackham's new (so new it’s only half-written!) musical Therapy. The showcase is wonderfully titled The Next Ten Minutes, in which there will be featured ten (roughly) minutes from each of six pieces that LTW plan to produce next year. Could this be an anomaly of my career or something much more significant? Only time will tell.
My time with my old favourite “vintage spy pop” band is sadly coming to a close. Due to their sizing down, next week will be their last gig with a horn section. But even though it is a Goodbye Gig, it’s doubling as an announcement of their new beginning, with two new singles Jungle and Fooling (Jungle including horns specially, just this once).
George Tavern, Commercial Road
3 November 2016, 9pm
Tune in to In Tune on BBC Radio 3 to hear me playing live with Alex Mendham and his Orchestra. Mendham's 11-piece orchestra authentically performs hot jazz and sweet dance band music from the Art Deco era, holding a steady position as the top such orchestra in the country.
The orchestra will be broadcasted live from the Royal Festival Hall to mark Radio 3's 70th anniversary. Listen from 5pm on Thursday 29 September 2016.
My degree is over. My final recital, a month ago today, really was the highlight of my four years at the Guildhall School, as it was everything I had planned it to be – a showcase of who I am as a musician. It had some natural trumpet, in Bach's second Brandenburg Concerto (without a doubt the best piece of baroque trumpet music in existence); I got to play the flugelhorn and exercise my choral roots in a rendition of Gammal Fäbodpsalm från Dalarna for flugelhorn and choir (though I did give up on the arranging side of things and persuaded a dear friend to do that bit for me); and I managed to fit a substantial bit of musical theatre in too – 76 songs in total – with my new invention of the musical theatre trumpet concerto!
Eternal thanks to my composer, Sam, my arranger, Charlie, the 30 musicians who played in the recital (it was meant to be 28, but following a very-last-minute illness, I had to replace a reed tripler with three separate musicians – I prefer a round number anyway), and of course, everyone who came to watch! The rest of you, check out the video which is now up on YouTube for your unlimited enjoyment.
The summer of 2016 is just how I like it – musicals, musicals, musicals! Or, at least, musical musical. Think of it as a double bill, except with a complete change of cast, production company and all but one of the band. Ok, so I'm playing for two shows back to back in the same theatre this summer, that's the gist. They are two very exciting shows, however, and for different reasons.
The first, for four weeks only, is the transfer of the critically acclaimed Through The Mill, which began its happy life at the London Theatre Workshop last Christmas. It depicts the life story of my all-time favourite singer, Judy Garland, this time around with a new script, reimagined production and, most importantly, a bigger band.
The second, running throughout August and into September, is a real groundbreaker. Ever heard of Rogers and Hammerstein? Ever seen their show Allegro (Sondheim's favourite)? Probably not, because it has never been performed in Europe...until now! The historic production is headed by a cast of 16, plus 8-piece band. See it.
Through The Mill
6 - 30 July 2016
Tickets: £20, £16, £12
Allegro (European Premiere)
5 August - 10 September 2016
Tickets: £25, £20, £14
Jerry Springer The Opera is one of the most groundbreaking and talked about musicals in the world of modern musical theatre. Turning heads since 2001, the show's latest production this month at Stockwell's LOST Theatre promises to do no different.
Music for the theatre is delightfully erratic to play. Genres rarely stick around for more than one song at a time, but Jerry Springer really takes the biscuit on this one. Three bars of classical nonchalance, a line of big band followed quickly by some soft shoe; a taste of baroque style piccolo trumpet, then straight into a heavy metal number – the brain frazzles but that's what makes for a brilliant score to play. That musical capriciousness is why shows are the best of all trumpet jobs.
16 – 19 March 2016
7:30pm (with 2pm matinee on 19th)
Tickets: £18, £15
Christmas is the busiest time of year for any musician, especially a brass player. Pantomimes and Christmas shows are in abundance, creating an enticing environment for those light music players, a group of which Tom most certainly is; brass quintets and other such ensembles are overwhelmed with parties and ceremonies. Christmas is a time at which Tom's second love, historical performance, thrives more than ever. Messiahs and Christmas Oratorios are a very regular occurrence in these months – some of the greatest natural trumpet repertoire.
There is a special pick-of-the-year for Tom on 23rd December, however. An unprecedented reworking of Handel's much-loved Messiah is the baby of Solistes de Musique Ancient this Christmas, going by the name of 'Brassiah'. This is G. F. Handel's famous classic with the standard string orchestra completely replaced with a brass quintet. Those of you who are familiar with the timbrical depth available from such an ensemble (displayed in, for instance, Canadian Brass' extraordinary performance of Beethoven 5) can imagine the success of this project. The ensemble will be accompanying eight stunning singers alongside organ, the music interspersed throughout the evening with readings, drama and poetry.
The Brassiah Project
23 December, 6pm
All Saints' Church, Putney Common
Tickets: £12, £0