Bach, Shakespeare, and Karaoke


Date of Publication: 30 August 2015

Residential Dean Naomi Gardom reports on the cultural highlights of our 2015 course

Summer evenings spent in Oxford have a particularly fairy-tale atmosphere. After a day in the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace followed by a picnic supper on Somerville lawns, the students of Course 2 made the short trip through Oxford’s golden streets to the Sheldonian Theatre. This distinguished building, designed by Christopher Wren (the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London) has a central position in Oxford life.

However, on this occasion we were not there to attend a matriculation or graduation ceremony; rather, we attended one of the concerts in the Oxford Philomusica summer series. The programme featured ever-ravishing favourites such as Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor, Pachelbel’s Canon, crowned with the delightfully frothy Concerto for Four Violins by Vivaldi. The exquisite baroque counterpoint of the music chimed with the beautiful architecture.

The most enjoyable part of the evening had to be the Botesini Concerto for Violin and Double Bass – an unusual combination of solo instruments, made even more special by the fact that the concert marked the 70th birthday of the double bassist. And, of course, the orchestra played him ‘Happy Birthday’.

A few evenings later, Course 2 staff and students were once again spotted inhaling some Oxford culture, on this occasion at an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a production by the Globe on Tour. This lively tale of crossed love, misunderstanding, villainy and reconciliation was brought to life by the star performances of the Shakespearean troupe, who aim to recreate as far as possible the authentic seventeenth-century experience, complete with live music, dancing, audience interaction and even fruit-throwing.

There was also time for culture of a less tradition kind, though nonetheless demanding and challenging. The karaoke night featured classics such as All the Single Ladies, Gangnam Style, and culminated in a staff performance of Angels. Group C came together for a rendition of Hot and Cold by Katy Perry (clearly not referring to their level-headed Assistant Course Director and Residential Deans), and Oxford Summer Courses’ very own Academic Director brought the house down with New York, New York.

Whether listening to Bach, roaring in laughter at the genius of William Shakespeare, or singing their hearts out to Lady Gaga, Oxford Summer Courses students have shown that they are up for anything.

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