Saturday, 19 November 2016

German tourette

Three splendid evenings on a mini tour of Germany...
Illingen (Saar), Langenau and Lahr...

The first two evenings were an outing of our Dinner for 4 show which was a Feast in all manner of musical styles... from Monteverdi's Lamenta della Ninfa to Jason Mraz's I'm Yours...
...with a few references to Dinner for One - the New Year comedy classic that the mainland Europeans know so much better than we do... (do have a look, if you do not know it, fellow Britains!)
We were returning to both places & it was as ever lovely to meet old friends - excellent to introduce the new group to everyone.

We met our first snowfall of the season too... which was fun; even if it did put at least an extra hour onto all our drives over the four days!

The third evening was an a cappella nacht, organised as ever with aplomb by Peter Martin Jacob; we met two groups who are old friends and colleagues vocaldente, who we met previously in Vienna (as part of the Voicemania Festival - where we are again next week); and also the lovely medlz... four young ladies from Dresden... Excellent to see them all again... and to sing Stand by Me as a massive encore altogether at the end of the night... marvellous.

And then at the end, we experienced a new airport...(yes, simple things etc)... Karslruhe Baden Baden was a good experience... although the power points were only available in the kids play area...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Bayreuth Mitsing #2

Another glory... one of our periodic concerts in a brewery!
This was another Mitsing evening where the audience join in in most of the songs... what fun it was - again...

Herzogkeller was a fantastic venue with a very welcoming atmosphere (and of course splendid beer!)...and lovely ever-attentive staff.

A large crowd appeared ready to sing, and accompanied us in varied styles and songs... We sang together (amongst other things) Yesterday, Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus (in 4-part harmony), Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence, two songs from America's deep south - one of those in German! -  and Jason Mraz's I'm Yours...

Some old faces (well, not old exactly, but seen before by us!), as well as new friends... chatting afterwards with enthusiasm and joy.  Also we were able to have some of the lovely local beer... what excellence...

We also had the first opportunity of selling copies of our new CD - A Song for Christmas - and people bought them too!

In the hotel afterwards, Wagner borrowed Chris's phone for a few calls... (tho' he wasn't very talkative!)

More Germany at the end of this week... details on our site, but we are at Illingen, Saar; Langenau & Lahr... Thursday-Saturday.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Burt Kwouk Memorial

Another moving chapter in our adventures in Memorial singing... and this one a bit of a reunion...

This time the man to be celebrated was the actor Burt Kwouk... he was a great fan of barbershop; and so for this gig we were not really the London Quartet as we had to be all-male (sorry, Sarah-Ann!)... also we were asked to be five-part by the arranger & old friend of Burt's, Kenny Clayton.
To add to the changes, Chris is at home awaiting the birth of his and Stephanie's firstborn (good luck!)...

Thus we were in fact a remarkable line-up of Cantabile - the London Quartet old and new...

Richard Bryan  counter-tenor
William Purefoy  counter-tenor (a member in the early 90s)
Steven Brooks  tenor
Mark Fleming  tenor
Michael Steffan  bass-baritone ensemble that had never sung together before; although the music business being as small a world as any other, everyone knew each other!

We accompanied friends of Burt in a piece written by Kenny; friends including Barry Cryer, Harry Hill & Paul Ryan...

Of course, as with all such occasions, it was uplifting, moving, as well as full of joy... Burt's wife, Caroline spoke beautifully & his 'best bits' were also shown on film...

We may have spent some time in The Lamb & Flag afterwards... what larks!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

German Summer Sunshine

Two terrific nights in Germany... surrounded by lots of wonderful singers and artists!

We did these two particular gigs in the same way three years ago...& it was great to be back.

First to Fritzlar... in the North! (quite near Holland)
In the old town... in the open air...
We had a fabulous time; singing Beatles, Mills Brothers, Hi-Lo's, Manhattan Transfer, 16th century Pavane by Thoinot Arbeau & Adele; as well as instructions as to how to make Tea set to the National Anthem... a glorious German text by our old friend Rainer Wallraf...
Both nights a great joy and success....

As so often, we met old and new friends!
The brilliant Sebastian Fuchs who we worked with in Bayreuth last year, did a fantastic double act with Tobias Wenger aka Wall Clown .. a tremendous act which has had huge success in recent years; at the Edinburgh Festival too... quite breathtaking... Sebastian provides the sound track (with his mouth only!) and Tobias - with the aid of a camera turned through 90° - acts as if can float in mid air and defy gravity... as you can see both Tobias' antics on the floor, and a screen with everything the 'right' way up, it is a mesmerizing display of physical comedy...

This blurred photo gives you a slight impression of their genius!

....and from The Netherlands we met another excellent vocal group, The Junction - two guys and three women with high energy, cool arrangements.... singing jazz, pop, classical and a Catalan folk carol (their Soprano is from Barcelona!)

Great to meet Isa, Margriet, Joyce, Paul & Henk! (& we saw them the next day too...)

At the end of the gig, all involved, including our agent Peter Martin Jacob (a splendid bass, of course), joined together to all sing I'm Yours by Jason Mraz

Then it was down to Friedrichshafen (quite near Switzerland) - three years ago, we got stuck on a train with track issues and arrived with a few minutes to spare... this time, we took the car - surely nothing could go wrong - we got stuck in one traffic jam, and then stationary behind an accident for 1.5 hours... what joys... this time we arrived with 3/4 hour to spare... so a slight improvement.

We were in a Zelt... during Festival time on the banks of the lake...

So we shared the stage with The Junction once more & also with Swiss group BLISS ... five guys with sharp-suited confidence and humour too! Classical parodies, A splendid Swiss version of the German National Anthem to Prince... glorious!

Here they are once the jackets came off halfway through their set!
Super also to meet Claudio, Lukas, Matthias, Tom & Viktor!

Then we had a glorious lake crossing on a ferry... on the way to the airport to go home... ferry does not seem too splendid to the English ear... but here it was beautiful!

Sarah-Ann looking wistful in the early morning light...


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Champs Hill Christmas CD Recording

Marvellous few days recording our new Christmas CD at the exquisite Champs Hill in Sussex.... (The record label already has our Songs of Love & War).

Two days down & one to go (19 pieces done & 8 left!) - you will get a list soon!

Here we are having lunch in the gardens ... well, here is Sarah-Ann & Chris x 2 (both Hatt & O'Gorman varieties!)

Our old friend Andrew Mellor is in charge of making everything sound splendid (he has been involved in three projects with us before); wonderful to have the brilliant Chris Hatt play the piano (he is already on our Songs of Cricket CD) & we also have had Paul Plummer coming down and further honing everything to splendid proportions (with his excellent ears)!

What joys - as ever, we are endebted to David and Mary & all the Champs Hill team...

Hoorah for it all...

More news (& even sounds!) when we have it ...

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Eskişehir - more delight in Turkey...

An excellent, if very brief, trip to Turkey for a festival of Cabaret and Comedy at Eskişehir (in between Ankara & Istanbul....); the name means Old City in Turkish, and it is thought to be at least 4,000 years old:- sadly we only had a few hours there!

The trip started with a wonderful flight which took us over Istanbul; amazing sights out of the window.
Then on to Ankara - where we stayed - looked after by the wonderful Ece ['thank you' x].  We had a few hours there, and some lovely Turkish food, before we travelled to Eskişehir.
A brilliant audience of all ages (lots of young people as half the population is students) gave as good as they got... and joined in Lion Sleeps, did all actions required for Money, money, money & provided a rhythm section for Rolling in the Deep!
In fact they were happy with all that we provided, from Henry VIII to Adele & from Oranges & Lemons to Instructions for making Tea properly (tho', it has to be said, all the tea that we were indeed offered in Turkey, was delicious!)

All in all a splendid time was had by all; it would be tremendous to come back to Turkey... and spend more days there.
Thank you Firat, Ece & all at Euphrates Artists for inviting us.

Lovely people in a lovely country...

Monday, 14 March 2016

Highs in the Low countries...

Four events in the Low countries... all ending on a high!

We started our journey in Veghel, NL; a new destination for us... excellent to have more gigs in Holland, where we have had so many splendid experiences over the years...
We had a lovely evening of Harmony and Humour, and the audience were very happy to hear it all... some having known us for decades... great to be back.
They Rolled in the Deep with Sarah-Ann especially well!

Next we were off to Trevianum, a school in Sittard, invited by our old friend, Gertie Weerts to celebrate the long 'reign' of Lou Harings (Headmaster) there!
We were a surprise (Lou knows us from concerts we have given in the area & at the school in the past)... and we were sent on to 'replace' the London Quintet who had performed the night before - a group of five teachers including Gertie!  All in the best possible taste of course...
Lou was indeed surprised!
Good to celebrate a teacher who has had such a long and great influence over school and pupils.
Thank you, Gertie, for inviting us to share in the occasion.

Then it was BE time for Showtime in Mol and Deurne, where were returning after a year or two...
We were joined for these two shows by our old friend and pianist Paul Plummer... he now resides in Glasgow and is a lecturer in opera at the Royal Conservatoire; brilliant that he had time enough to spare for us in his busy schedule.
Both venues were terrific & looked after us splendidly... (it always seem we end up talking about food in Belgium!) - the meal at Bistro Opera in Mol was excellent, as was the meal created by Lesley at Deurne backstage... all glorious.
Thank you!
...and of course there was the terrific Belgian beer to enjoy too!

...and the concerts were also good!  Our songs from Broadway, West End, Holly- and Pine-Wood went down very well... and we had a great time...
...people love California dreamin'.
We love the Guys and Dolls medley, particularly as it is in the West End once more...
...& the Laurel & Hardy dance - especially fun to do!

Here's an arty photo of Cant - TLQ with Paul Plummer in a hotel ceiling....