Rock out to Queen’s greatest hits this weekend

Rock out to Queen’s greatest hits this weekend

We spoke with Richard Sidwell, who’s set to conduct the concert spectcular.

By Adam Zacharias (senior Reporter)

Published: Thu 27 Nov 2014, 12:34 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:13 PM

Rock out to Queen’s greatest hits this weekend

Go ga ga to a treasure trove of hits, as ‘The Music of Queen’ comes to Dubai Media City Amphitheatre tomorrow night.

The charity fundraising show will star four members of West End musical We Will Rock You – Rachael Wooding (Scaramouche), Ricardo Afonso (Galileo), Peter Eldridge (P Puff Diddy) and Jenna Lee-James (Killer Queen).

Providing the musical punch will be a 15-person band from the same long-running London show, while the 46-person UAE National Symphony Orchestra will lend a classical feel to the evening as well.

Founded in London in 1970, Queen became revered for churning out singalong classics in a wide variety of genres – as well as the powerhouse vocals of Freddie Mercury and the inventive guitar work of Brain May.

Their 1981 Greatest Hits LP – containing tracks like Bohemian Rhapsody, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Flash – remains the UK’s best-selling album ever, with more than six million units shifted.

Queen continue to perform today despite Mercury’s death from AIDS-related complications in 1991.

We spoke with Richard Sidwell, conductor and musical arranger for ‘The Music of Queen’.

Richard Sidwell

Richard Sidwell

What makes conducting such a tricky job?

Firstly, it’s very important to have a clear idea of how the piece of music should sound, in terms of tempo, dynamics and overall shape. With this show, where I have four singers, a five-piece rock band and a full symphony orchestra to conduct, it’s important to make sure they’re all playing together, as classical musicians and rock musicians have a different way of following conductors and also a different sense of time.

Among the many pop artists you’ve performed with as a trumpet player, who have been your favourites?

Blur were great fun – big worldwide tours at some amazing venues, even travelling to Greenland for a concert. I toured with Shirley Bassey in my early years and she bowled me over with her amazing stage presence. Sir Tom Jones is a total legend and still an astonishing singer. I worked on three series of The Voice UK and when he sings in rehearsals, everybody stops and listens. My greatest inspiration though comes from fellow freelance professional musicians. In the UK we’re blessed with so many great players and unsung heroes.

How and why did you first start to play the trumpet?

My dad was a saxophonist. But there was a trumpet lying around at home from his uncle Harry, which I started playing on. The school I went to was outstanding for music, particularly brass, and the music teacher there was very dedicated so we had brass bands, wind bands, choirs and many opportunities to play.

Did you ever get the chance to see the original Queen line-up perform?

Sadly not. Though I did work on We Will Rock You in London, which Brian May and (Queen drummer) Roger Taylor were heavily involved in, and I’ve also played with them in a band I work with called Spike’s All Stars, or the SAS band.

What’s your best memory from your career in music?

Earlier this year, we performed three sell-out shows of ‘The Music of Queen’ with The Sydney Symphony Orchestra at The Sydney Opera House, which was incredibly special. We’ve also performed at Red Rocks in Colorado, USA, which was amazing. Playing big gigs at Wembley Arena was great, particularly as I’m from London, so that felt very special, and playing a cornet solo in front of The Queen Mother at The Queen Elizabeth Hall when I was 17.

In your opinion, what separates a good musician from a great one?

Somebody can learn to be a good musician and instrumentalist, but greatness comes from a natural ability, a gift of nature that can’t be taught.

What’s your favourite Queen song and why?

I love so many of their songs, but The Show Must Go On always gives me shivers; it’s so grand, epic and inspiring. Bohemian Rhapsody is just so unique, and Innuendo is probably my favourite to perform in the Queen show.

If Freddie Mercury were to catch ‘The Music of Queen’ show in Dubai, what do you think he’d say?

Well, Brian has been to see the show and even sat through the rehearsal at the back of the stage, which was quite scary. Taking somebody else’s music and doing big arrangements of them is very personal, like painting more of your own ideas on somebody else’s painting. I’m delighted that Brian really enjoyed it so I’d hope that Freddie would have also.

More news from City Times