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....

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Beautiful Barcelona & Marvellous Mallorca

A glorious few days in Catalunya; Barcelona, then Palma de Mallorca...

Quite brilliant cities to spend time & lovely sold out audiences too! Thank you La Caixa for inviting us back!

Mont Juic

La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona old town, more other Gaudi than you could shake a stick at:- including the magnificent Palma Cathedral...

Terrific food & blue skies/sunshine.... also the brilliant CaixaForum buildings themselves...
Here's the Barcelona one (a refurbished tile factory, we think!):

Difficult not to shower this blog with gorgeous photos... but we have been having a splendid time!

The concerts were both terrific, with audiences full of enthusiasm & enjoying out Catalan/Mallorcan speaking... All very happy joining in with rhythmic joy with Sarah-Ann's rendition of Rolling in the Deep (Adele).

Hoping very much to come back as these places deserve a very high level of exploration!
Many happy memories of previous visits abound... especially of our children over here...

After these sunny glories, it is off to The Netherlands & Belgium... as ever details on our site...
but Veghel, Mol & Deurne.... here we come!

PS: Very much enjoyed visiting this station in Barcelona...

(...for those of a Dutch/Flemish-speaking inclination, I assure you this word simply means 'idiot' in English; nothing more crude is implied....those of a nervous disposition, need not try to work out what I might refer to in this paragraph...)

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Palladian splendour

A delightful evening with WOM at Ditchley House, OXON.

WOM = Women on the Move; a group of influential ladies who met around the UN in New York in the noughties & have been meeting regularly ever since.
We were invited by Lady Penny Holmes (we met her and Sir John when he was UK Ambassador to France 2001-6)....
Other members of the group are Nane Annan (wife of Kofi) & Lady Anne Greenstock (wife of Sir Jeremy) as well as women from India, the USA, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Austria, Luxembourg... a very global meeting!

Ditchley House is a wonderful mansion which was a secret refuge for Winston Churchill during WWII; and after being bought by Sir David Wills became in the early 60s a place continue/foster good Anglo-American relations, & has since encompassed dialogue between the nations of the whole world... especially since Sir John and Lady Holmes have been in charge.

But enough of serious purpose... we had a lovely afternoon and evening... started by walking the Holmes splendid labrador, Maddie...

...and then a glorious dinner at which we sang twice... including a special version of New York, New York celebrating the retirement (and final homegoing) of Babli Sharma (wife of the outgoing Commonwealth General Secretary, Kamalesh)... she was gracious as we discussed her life!

A fine evening of bonhomie (bonfemmie?), good food, and delight.... & they liked our singing too... how splendid!
Some discussion ensued of our joining other dinner parties around the globe... what can I say? what a terrific idea!

Next stop Barcelona; then Palma, The Netherlands & Belgium...
... to say farewell for the moment; here is the lake at sunset...

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Going Dutch in Groningen

A triumphant return to The Netherlands in the north... at Groningen...
We were making our sixth visit to de Oosterpoort - a wonderful arts complex... and indeed it was great to see our old friends Irene & Remke there too!

We gave a performance of Showtime - with the splendid Chris Hatt at the piano, taking a night off from Billy Elliot in the West End.

From the start - having been encouraged to join in our Money, money, money dance! - the audience were with us, and being wonderfully enthusiastic and fun.

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Kiss from a RoseGuys & Dolls, Happy, Route 66, He's a Tramp, Over the Rainbow, & Skyfall all flashed by & we finished off with the Comedian Harmonists' tongue-twisty, Wenn ich vergnügt bin muss ich singen, as Groningen has a German-speaking part...

A delight to be in Holland again... we are in Veghel on March 10th next month (this time singing a different show, Harmony & Humour) - click away to find out more!

But first we are in Oxfordshire for a private function, and back in Barcelona & Palma de Mallorca; and afterwards more Belgium and some Turkey.... all details on our site!
What larks!