Skip to main content

Music in CardiffStudent lifeStudent performances

City of Stars

12 March 2018

City of Stars by Thomas Haslehurst (MA in Composition)

Back in November 2017, a small group of PG students gathered in the Small Lecture Room to discuss an exciting opportunity, regarding the development of a fresh style of concert in conjunction with the School of Music. Fast forward four months and we are only one week away from welcoming the public to our inaugural City of Stars concert, on 20th March 2018.

Upon the formation of our 5-person City of Stars committee, which includes postgraduate students Iestyn Griffiths (Piano performance), Alexandra Lucas (Flute performance), Hope Vaughan-Hughes (Music Studies), Nia-Bethan Squirrell (Violin performance) and myself, Thomas Haslehurst (Composition), I was assigned the role of graphic designer and co-decorator for the Concert, due to my experience in Graphic Design and Fine Art.

After discussing the concerts name and theme (musical theatre) I came up with a selection of ideas for the promotional graphics, including the City of Stars silhouette against a starry night sky. Throughout the design process it was important to communicate my ideas and sketches with the other committee members to get their invaluable input. Many alterations took place between the initial drafting stage and the final design that we used on our promotional materials. These alterations included the choices of font, the colour of the silhouette and the placement of text.

Font Test 1
Font Test 2
Font Test 3
Font Test 4

As part of our promotional campaign we chose to gradually ‘reveal’ the graphics, piece by piece, starting off with a minimalistic black and white design for the promotion of soloist auditions at the beginning of the year.

Soloist Auditions Advert

We then released a smaller, more condensed version of the poster onto the Orchestra and Soloists Facebook groups, to hint at the final design and its colour palette while increasing the excitement and mystery surrounding the concert.

Simplified banner for social media

Finally, with just over two weeks till the concert we released the final City of Stars design for the public to see, both on numerous social media channels and around the School of Music via Posters and the departmental TV screens.

Welcome to the City of Stars!

As part of my role within the committee I was also tasked, alongside fellow postgraduate student and friend Nia-Bethan Squirrell to decorate and transform the Concert Hall into something straight from Broadway, for one night only. A huge task, but one we both revelled in and rose to, especially the numerous challenges it presented each of us. One of which, for myself, was the design and creation of a large set, that would help enhance the audience’s imagination whilst transporting them to Broadway or the West End for the evening. The process of designing the set was relatively straight forward as I already had the idea of incorporating the City of Stars silhouette from the promotional materials into a set for the Concert Hall. The difficult part however, was working out how best to create something that would be free-standing, visually appealing and could utilise the large space of the Concert Hall. Measurements were taken, and numerous sketches were drawn, first free hand and then to scale on graph paper.

Free hand draft of City of Stars set


Scale drawing on City of Stars set – back wall section
Scale drawing of City of Stars set – front of stage and side sections

After finalising the design with the other committee members, I started working on creating the set using large panels of black mountboard. To make things easier for myself on concert day when positioning the set within the Concert Hall, I employed a colour coded panelling system, where each individual piece of mountboard is colour coded and numbered in relation to the 1:10 scale drawing. The complete set will comprise of over 50 individual panels, which come together to create the city silhouette/skyline design, with around 80 separate elements coming together to transform the Concert Hall into a truly unforgettable Broadway experience for both the audience and performers alike.

1:10 scale drawing of each individual panel which makes up the City of Stars set

Having a 1:10 scale plan to work from made cutting the set easier. Here is a sneak peek at what part of the set looked like, mid-creation.

Four of the 50+ panels used to create the City of Stars set. From the 8m x 2m back wall section.

The next, and final step, is the erection and completion of the City of Stars set and final decoration of the Concert Hall. With rehearsals well underway and sounding brilliant, all of us on the committee are looking forward to opening this inaugural concert to the public in a weeks time.

Do come along, as it is definitely a concert not to be missed and is one for all the family to enjoy. Tickets can be bought online at or on the door, at £5 (£2 concessions). Cheese and Wine will be available before the concert and during the interval.

We look forward to welcoming you to our City of Stars!