TheGhostOrchestra: New Songs of Love and Loss

Submitted by Ruby Soxer on Tue, 4 Sep '07 4.04pm
Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Musicians Michaela Betts (vox); Ruth Chan (piano); Des Burkinshaw (composer/writer/arranger)

TheGhostOrchestra is so named because it represents all the musicians, normally left in the background, who go towards making a successful piece of music.

Three of its members, acting as ambassadors for the 14 piece ensemble, performed the world premiere of 'New Songs of Love and Loss'. They were: singer and arranger, Michaela Betts; pianist and arranger, Ruth Chan and composer/writer/arranger, Des Burkinshaw.

The songs were all new with the exception of a few from TheGhostOrchestra's debut album which were woven into the theme. The singing was performed to a backdrop of slides which provided thoughtful and often amusing little interludes related to each on-coming group of songs. The format initially created an eccentric impression but its context and function gradually became apparent and indeed attractive.

The venue was small and therefore intimate which suited the style of the performance. After a somewhat nervous start the show became captivating. Burkinshaw's songs were melodic. Their lyrics were clever and the imagery strong, appealing and often poetic.

Michaela Betts should be on the West End stage. She possesses a clear sweet voice with such clean diction that not a lyric was lost. During the performance she showed the real ability to interpret and convey the sentiment of what she was singing. This helped to captivate an initially lukewarm audience.

Full marks must go to Ruth Chan who sat behind a somewhat wonky-looking piano, typical of those at Fringe venues, with her foot resting on a pile of brochures under the pedal and was still able to make it produce the goods.

All three of last night's performers have prestigious musical CVs behind them in terms of performance/composition and so it is unsurprising that this particular presentation turned out to be so good.

Concert Date 20 August 2007

© Ruby Soxer. 21 August 2007. First published on See also Sweet UK at